has been part of the Indian civilization since ancient times.
Ornaments made of gold, silver, copper, ivory, pottery and beads
have been discovered in civilizations as ancient as the Harappa and
Mohenjodaro. The Indus valley goldsmith knew how to make moulds for
metal and terracotta ornaments. Gold jewellery from these
civilizations consisted of bracelets, necklaces, bangles, ear
ornaments, rings, head ornaments, brooches and girdles.
Perhaps the earliest finds in jewellery have been excavated
from the Chalcolithic sites. Highly decked terracotta figures,
copper rings, beads, bangles and hairpins found here are dated
between 3500 BC and 2000 BC.
literature records sixteen modes of female adornment described as
the Solah shringaar. Shringaar
(adornment) followed certain basic patterns.
Alankara (embellishment) consists of floral wreaths,
jewellery and garments as well as the various unguents applied over
the limbs. Some of the
women's decorative ornaments mentioned in the Agamas or
traditional treatises include
chudamani (crest jewel), mukuta (crown), kundala
(ear ornaments) and kila (ear tops).
Neck ornaments included muktavali (pearl necklace), harsaka
(serpent shaped necklace) and sutroka (gold thread).
Bangles called hestali and valaya were worn on
the forearms, while ruchika was the bracelet and vecitka
was the wrist ornament. The keyura (armlet) and angada (armband) were
worn over the elbow. The
ornaments for the cheeks were the patra lekha while the padapatra
was the jewel for the shanks.
An additional embellishment for the feet was the alaltaka.
The Indian women use the bindi as an indispensable
part of her apparel. She
also puts sindoor (vermilion) on the forehead and kajal
and surma in her eyes. Some of the traditional jewellery in
common use in India consists of the mangalsutra of
Maharashtra, the saj of Kolhapur and the panchikam of
jewellery of the later period is reflected in the sculptures at
Bharut, Sanchi, Amarnath and Orissa, and these have influenced the
later Indian jewellery both in design and craftsmanship.
In certain parts of India excavations have brought to light
jewellery pieces of high craftsmanship and skill which show the
various influences. The finds of Taxila are particularly noteworthy
as they show the Greek influence in Indian art.
This art has been perfected with modern styles and use of new
materials. Besides gold and other metal jewellery, stones, conch
shells, wood and plant seeds were used.
the Muslim rulers, gold and silver jewellery became more and more
elaborately embellished with precious stones and enameling. Jaipur is the centre for gold kundan
work and diamond and emerald cutting. In the Kundankari
technique the gemstones are set within solid walls of gold. Kundan
jewellery features precious gems on one side and meenakari work
on the reverse. The kundan work of Gujarat and Rajasthan is
the influence of the Mughals. The Thewa jewellery of
Rajasthan is an extremely fine work in gold leaf depicting scenes
from rasalila episodes. Pratapgarh
in Chittorgarh district is famous for thewa
jewellery, where articles like pendants, earrings, small sindhoor
boxes and jewel cases are made in this
Rajasthan is also famous for various silver ornaments like the hair
adornments (morpatta and rakhadi);
ear tops (phul jhumka, karanphul, toti, lathan and papal
gatti) and foot ornaments (angustha).
Orissa is famous for its silver anklets called painri
and paijam and silver knitted ornaments called gunchi.
Cuttack in Orissa is famous for its attardans or
rosewater sprinklers, bowls and decorative animals and birds,
especially peacock figures made in the filigree technique. Madhya
Pradesh is famous for its anklets called lauang kasuathi.
folk and tribal jewellery of India is much varied, in the use of
materials, which include lac, glass, shells and beads. Kashmir,
Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and the tribal zones in
central, eastern and southern India are renowned for ornaments in
silver and a particular type of alloy called Pewter, that imitates
bead-and-metal jewellery of Himachal Pradesh is very popular and is
in great demand. The enamel workers of Kangra, Chamba, Mandi and
Kullu have produced exquisite ornaments and jewellery.
The Pahari women wear necklaces known as chandanhaars
(a bunch of long silver chains linked by engraved or enamelled
silver plaques), chokers called kach (made of silver beads
and triangular plaques) and the collar-like hansali, besides
heavy anklets, bangles and silver bracelets (kare). In
Lahaul-Spiti, ornaments are studded with semi precious stones like
coral, turquoise, amber and mother-of-pearl. The jewellery of Ladakh
mainly consists of fi (amber), churu (coral), yu
(turquoise) and tiny seed pearls made into necklaces and earrings. Perak
is a fascinating ornament of this region.
of the sun, moon, serpent and images of deities are predominant in
the jewellery of the southern states. The thali, an essential
component of the marriage ceremony of many communities, is a gold
necklace consisting of numerous emblems, usually a phallic symbol,
which hangs in the centre. Profusion in use of jewellery is still a
feature of the rural countryside.