by Aarti Kapur Singh
Check out 7 traditional wedding jewellery pieces and sets that are unique and stylish!
The influence of jewellery and other precious adornments is ample throughout history – as evident in ancient scriptures or images of deities. These precious objects are not just a symbol of pride and prestige but are also denotative of our rich traditions and cultural heritage. Often given to women as gifts on various auspicious occasions, some items of jewellery also assume cultural, traditional, mythological and sometimes, scientific significance.
We list out some essential items that comprised a bridal trousseau from various parts of India in olden times, but are not so popular now. Read the mythology around it and perhaps you will get one made for your wedding.
1. Aarsi: The Aarsi ring is quite popular amongs brides and antique collectors for its historical lore. Introduced by the Mughals to India, this ring comprises a flat, jeweled mirror fitted on a thick gold base. It was originally worn by courtesans to enable them to preen themselves with grace. Later it became a part of bridal adornment to allow the coy brides to sneak a peek at their grooms. Brides mostly had their faces veiled during weddings. An aarsi was a discrete way out to be able to exchange stolen glances between the bride and groom during the ceremonies. Although they incorporate kundan work, they are not the same as kundan rings. They could also incorporate open filigree work, soldered bead work or pearls.
2. Bala: Though the trend of men adoring themselves has now faded away, heritage and history are proof of the fact that men were not immune to the lure of jewels. Now hardly seen at jewelers or worn at weddings, the bala was a very large earring worn by the warrior clan of North India and Punjab – the Khatris, Sikhs and Dogras. A single band or wire of gold – it had a pearl strung on it and was one of the most basic jewels that menfolk wore. According to ancient Indian astrological beliefs, a pearl was a ‘cooling’ gem – so this piece of jewellery was intended to keep masculine egos and tempers from getting out of control. It wouldn’t harm to revive this tradition, for one!
3. Gokhru: In Rajasthan and Gujarat, a pair of traditional bridal bracelets has an unusual aggressive name called Gokhru – which is another name for the acacia plant. Though a traditional adornment of the erstwhile Punjab and Sind region, this ornament is very popular among brides from the Chamba region of Himachal as well. Made of solid silver or gold, the thickness of the metal plates is forged in seven points. The weight of one pair ranges from 50 – 100gms.
4. Hasli: Hasli style necklaces are rigid, ring-like pieces of collar or choker-length. Usually made of solid silver, they are popular adornments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. While they were made of gold when the metal was affordable, a silver hasli is often matched with a pair of kangans for the bride. Owing to its tremendous weight, it is worn only on ceremonies.
5. Saggi Phull: Saggi phull is worn on the head by Punjabi girls in dances like giddha, and other cultural functions with traditional dresses. An ornament called saggi is a central head stud that supports the phulkari or dupatta or other headgear. It is a hemispherical boss with raised work, all over with floral patterns carved out in horizontal circles, encased in lines and dots and dashes, and a star in the centre. Now there are half-a-dozen varieties of sagi. When at the top-centre a colored stone is fixed in it, it becomes sagi uchhi. Where several round beads are hung at the edge with silver chains, it becomes sagi motianwali. When two additional sagis are linked to the upper side they are known as sagi phul.This Saggi phull is well designed and gold plated. Chimes (Ghungroo) also attached to it to make them more beautiful. A slight variation in its complex shape turns it into sagi chandiari. When green or blue enamelling is done on it, it becomes sagi meenawali. This ornament is also known as sisphul, chaunk or choti phul.
6. Lotan: These are dome-like earring popular in Punjab. Made of gold, they have a small hook on the inside of the dome through which silken thread tassles, called latkan, can be hung. Since these tassles are detachable, you could have a variety of earrings to match all outfits. The lotans, or the gold cups remain the same. It is said that these are the first earrings presented to a Punjabi girl on attaining puberty.
7. Nath – Shikarpuri: While to most a nose ring may seems like a fashion statement, in India, it’s an age old tradition that’s heads back centuries and has significance even today. Ranging from a small diamond stud to large round designs and paisley shapes, nose pins vary in size and design from region to region. According to matrimonial traditions, a nath is also the symbol of a bride’s virginity. So much so, once a virgin is deflowered, it is symbolically referred to as the removal of the ‘nath’ in most parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is believed that the oldest Vedic script that refers to medicine, the Ayurveda, associates nasal piercing with female reproductive organs. It is believed that nose ornaments have scientific benefits for the women who wear them. Apparently, piercing the nose to wear nose studs or rings protects the women from myriad nasal infections as well. The Punjabi bride wears the shikarpuri nath – a gold ring strung with as many as 20 to 25 motifs or charms – including tiny birds, mangoes, leaves, florets, pearls and so on. Sometimes it is connected to the ear or the hair behind the ear (for additional support in case the ornament is heavy) and in some regions, both nostrils are pierced.
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