Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jewelry of the World: India

India is a country that sometimes seems ageless. It's culture and heritage runs deep in the traditions of its people and the aesthetics of Indian clothes, jewelry and architecture. Indian jewelry stands out in its intricate design and the sheer amount that is usually worn. Jewelry has also played a significant role in Indian culture both secular and religious.


India has always been known as a mineral rich country and that is seen through its jewelry. Jewelry is used to decorate beyond the usual western neck, ears, and wrists. Indian decoration goes on to be used on the head, feet, hips, nose, hair, and clothes. This practice of being covered in jewelry has roots in both culture and religion. Jewelry was often the only fail safe a woman had if something happened to her family. The more jewelry she owned the more she could sell in times of desperate need. This kind of adornment might have also sprouted from the Hindu principal of Artha. Artha is the pursuit of wealth and prosperity of married adults for the good of their family. The gaining and wearing of jewelry could certainly be part of Artha.

Indian designs sprout from a reflection of the Hindu belief of the order of the universe or R'ta. Designs are usually repetitious and symmetrical copying the cycle of life, dead, and rebirth. But beyond that frame, jewelry becomes elaborate and beautiful simply for the existence of the beauty itself. Etched gems have been found that have etching and designs on the reverse side that would've been hidden by the setting. This is a perfect example of beauty for beauty's sake.

Gold is a focal point of Indian culture and jewelry. Gold is prominent in the Hindu creation myth and the great creator god, Brahma, was born out of gold. Because of its mythical origins, gold has a great value in Indian society, and became the most used metal in jewelry. India as a country has been calculated to contain over 11,000 tonnes of gold. Gold is a symbol of purity in Indian culture.

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