Silver Tribal Jewellery culture in India
Eclectic, earthen and funky are some of the adjectives that can be used to describe tribal jewelry, while arty, refined and evergreen can be used to describe ethnic jewelry.
Most indigenous tribes were relatively poor or were frequently plundered by colonial powers, their selection of raw materials was humble and was limited to shells, claws, jaws of animals, ivory, wood, etc which now forms a part of their culture.
Characteristics of Tribal Jewelry
Tribal jewelry communicates a lot about the wearer’s status in the group, his wealth and possessions, spiritual beliefs and even functional habits.
Thus, apart from depicting a customarily idealised appearance, the ornaments give a brief glimpse into the socio-cultural traditions of a particular group.
Tribal jewellery trends at various parts of the country:
- Madhya Pradesh- Tribes of Bastar
The use of grass, natural beads and cane make the ornaments made by tribes of Bastar stand out amidst the rest. Most of the residents of Bastar district still prefer to adorn traditional ornaments made out of copper, glass, silver, wood, peacock feathers and even wild flowers.
It is fairly common to spot indigenous women wearing necklaces made out of one rupee coins, which is an excellent example of creativity.
- Rajasthan- Banjara Tribes
This nomadic group adorns colourful and weighty ornaments, embossed with coins, shells, beads and metallic mesh which make them distinguishable at the very first glance. Also, the Banjara tribes adorn ornate belts around their waists to complement their vibrant attires.
- Arunachal Pradesh
Wacho Tribes: This tribal group incorporates naturally available resources like seeds, beetles, feathers, bamboo and cane to decorate their jewels.
Karka Gallong Tribes: The women of this group adorn immaculately crafted coils of iron rings as earrings to complement their metal embossed leather belts. Also, their adornments are heavily studded with beads.
Rengami Nagas: Men belonging to the Rengami Nagas group wear jewels made from flowers in their ears and the red blossoms are most popular among them.
- Himachal Pradesh- Tribes of Chamba, Kangra, Mandi and Kullu:
Himachali elliptical anklets, iron-headed bangles and ornate daggers are quite popular all over the world for their uniqueness. Also, traditional collar-like silver Hansalis, silver chokers called Kachs and Shellac filled silver bangles are commonly worn by pahari women of Himachal. Apart from their aesthetics, the Himachalis believe that silver ornaments protect the adorner from evil spirits.
- Karnataka- Konda Kapus tribes
The Konda Kapus tribes use silver and copper coins to make astonishing ornaments. Since these ornaments are made using old Indian coins, they are always sought-for by antique collectors. Necklaces made from 25 paisa and 50 paisa coins are commonly worn by the women of the group
Mughals and their connection with jewellery
The Mughals came to India in the 16th century and brought with them exceptionally talented and skilled craftsmen that redefined gold jewellery and the art of ornamentation of the time. Some of the best-known goldsmiths of the era worked under the Mughals. Mughal jewellery was beautifully carved, and the degree of intricacy in their designs was what set it apart.
- One of the most common Mughal jewellery designs was that of the crescent and stem. Earrings were made in the shape of a crescent covering the entire ear with a small stem on top
- The silk turbans worn by Mughal emperors were decorated with ornaments enamelled in gold.
- Wrist ornaments (kadas, bangles, bracelets) were mostly made with enamelled gold elaborated with intricate and elegant floral designs.
- Huge rings worn by the emperors were made of pure gold or were enamelled with gold.
- The royal Mughal women often wore intricately carved gold-plated anklets.
- One of the most popular gold accessories from the Mughal era was the ‘nath’. This nose ring made of circular gold wire threaded with ruby and pearls was worn by every Mughal empress.
An abundance of artifacts, especially ancient Persian jewelry, have been discovered there dating back to the 1st century BC. It was typical for a person to be buried with their most valued jewels so the wealthier you were, the more jewels you were buried with.
Gold necklaces with gemstones, bracelets, clasps, crowns, earrings, rings, and pendants were just some of the 20,000 ornamental artifacts that were discovered at the site.
- The Persians, particularly women, were known for their love of jewelry. They had a special affection for diamonds, emeralds and other gemstones.
- A diadem or tadji was a type of headpiece worn by Persian women on very special occasions. A woman's hair was parted in the middle and then pulled back and tied in a knot at the nape of the neck. This special headpiece was worn on top of this specific hairstyle.
- On occasions that did not require such extravagance, a slightly more simplistic head piece called a nim tadji was worn instead. This gold headband was decorated with either diamonds, pearls or gemstones.