Historical significance of jewellery in India
Have you ever wondered how certain items of jewellery came about? Why they were worn in the first place, before they became jewellery box staples in contemporary culture?
We decided to look to India, a country with an extremely rich and historical culture of ornamentation and bodily adornment, for some answers:
Necklaces - According to Indian culture, the neck is an important spiritual centre. From earliest times protective pendants, necklaces and strings of beads were worn around the neck to bring good luck and avert the Evil Eye. They were thought to distract the eyes of the viewer from the wearer’s face and eyes, thus protecting the wearer from not only the dangers of the mysterious Evil Eye, but also acting as a restraint against the hypnotic gaze of undesirable gentlemen trying out their charms on virtuous maidens.
Bangles - One of India’s oldest known items of ornamentation, bangles have been crafted from a wide array of materials - in fact just about any material that lends itself to craftsmanship: terracotta, stone, shell, copper, bronze, gold, silver, glass.
Bangles are foremost the mark of a married woman in India. They emphasise her status as the beloved of her husband and the honoured mother of her family. To a married woman, ornaments for the wrist have such important significance that even when changing bangles, she will never allow her arm to be completely bare - a simple string or even her sari will be wrapped around her arm until the new set is worn.
Earrings - Although earrings act as a sign of identification of their wearers' status or for a geographic region, ultimately they were traditionally worn to ward off evil spirits. Malevolent spirits, the "butas", are believed to enter the body through the ear apertures and thought to cause damage to the brain, so the openings were protected by earrings acting as amulets.
In addition, in acupuncture the ear lobe is directly linked to the kidney and wearing earrings acts as a constant stimulation which thus activates and improves the function of the kidneys.