Bohra Caps

The Bohra cap dervies its name from its exclusive use by the men of Dawoodi Bohra community. The Dawoodi Bohras are a sect within the Ismaili branch of Shia Muslims. In India, Bohras mainly reside in live in Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. They pride themselves on being a distinctive, prosperous people. Their tightly knit community, high level of education and business success make them an influential force. The word Bohra comes from the Gujarati word vehru (“trade”), in reference to their traditional profession. The main language of the community is “Lisan ud-Dawat”, a dialect of Gujarati, with inclusions from other languages.

IndianBijou_Bohra_Cap
Bohra Cap

When in communal attire, a Bohra male has a form of Tunic called Kurta, equally lengthy overcoat dress called Saya, both of which are mostly white, along with a white cap with golden zari work. The cap is a mark of identity, in rich gold and white, and crowns the head of a Bohra man, whether he is dressed up for prayer, or participating in festivities, or just going to work. Earlier worn only during Namaaz and festivals, now its usage has spread to everyday wear. Just like new clothes, new caps are also made for special occasions.

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Bohra Men Wearing Different Caps

The caps are completely handmade by Bohra women of all ages and are knit using the crochet method. Crochet is the technique of fabric construction by puling loops of yarns though other loops, using a special hook. Using a plastic or aluminium vessel as a base, the crochet is begun at the center and proceeds in a spiral form from the core to the outer edge. Although the basic stitch remains the same, both geometric and floral patterns
are created to distinguish the designs.

Indian_Bijou_Woman_Bohra_Cap

Unlike regular crochet, which is made with wool or acrylic yarns, the crochet on these caps is very fine and close knit. The women use string cotton or nylon, with golden yarn that is known as kasab. Caps made for festive occasions may have a lot of kasab work, sometimes with very little white visible. No other colour is used on the caps, except an occasional touch of black or green on the borders. Caps range from a circumference of 19” to 23”, depending on the age of the wearer.

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Quick Guide to Madhubani Paintings

Madhubani painting is an art form practiced in Madhubani district in the state of Bihar in India. Madhubani, means Forest of Honey, (‘Madhu’-honey, ‘Ban’- forest) and the region has had a distinct identity and language spanning for 2500 years.

Indian_Bijou_Madhubani_Painting

History

The original inspiration for Madhubani art emerged from womens’ desire to be one with God. With the belief that painting something divine would achieve that desire, women began to paint pictures of gods and goddesses.  These painting, as a domestic ritual activity, were unknown to the outside world until the massive India-Nepal  earthquake of 1934 when the houses and walls tumbled down. Then British colonial officer in Madhubani District, William G. Archer, while inspecting the damage “discovered” the paintings on the newly exposed interior walls of local homes.

The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered hut walls coated with mud and cow dung, but now they are also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. The art form has remained confined to a compact geographical area and the skills have been passed on through centuries with the content and the style largely remaining the same. Madhubani painting have been accorded the coveted GI (Geographical Indication) status. Even now during birth and marriage ceremonies paintings are made on walls with different symbols that announce the occasion of the celebration and solicit good fortune and divine blessings.

Process

Painting is done with fingers, twigs or brushes, using natural dyes and pigments.  The central themes of the paintings are love, devotion and fertility, though the approach may vary. So it is common to find scenes of courtship and marriages and symbols of fertility and prosperity like fish, parrot, elephant, turtle, sun, moon, lotus, etc. in prominence. The divine beings are positioned centrally in the frame while their consorts and floral motifs form the background. The human figures are mostly abstract and linear in form. Generally no space is left empty; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs.

Indian_Bijou_Madhubani_Painting

Madhubani paintings uses colours that are derived from plants. The brush used for Madhubani paintings is made of cotton, wrapped around a bamboo stick. The artists use organic material to prepare the colors used for the paintings. Black color is made by adding soot to cow dung; yellow from combining turmeric (or pollen or lime) with the milk of banyan leaves; blue from indigo; red from flower juice or red sandalwood; green from the leaves of the tree; white from rice powder and orange from flowers. There is no shading in the application of colors. A double line is drawn for outlines and the gap is filled with either cross or straight tiny lines.  The coloring is of two styles – Kachni (hatching) and Bharni (shading.) Kachni uses delicate fine lines to fill the painting and not much color is used. Bharni (shading) uses solid colors to shade and fill the pictures. It uses black outlines filled with vibrant colors. A variety of inventive patterns are made with hatching and stippling.

Future

In Madhubani, until painting on paper began 40+ years ago, women’s activities were limited to household chores, child rearing, managing family, and ritual wall painting.

Painting on paper for sale has changed this dramatically. Aside from generating important new family income, women have gained local, national, and even international recognition. Artists get being invited to exhibitions across the globe – not just as “folk artists,” but as “contemporary artists.” Where once their paintings were anonymous, now they are proudly signed. Along with economic success, opportunities for travel and education are expanding women’s consciousness and engagement with the world around them. Today, Madhubani painting is regarded as a contemporary art form rooted in the expanding experiences, concerns, and freedom of women.

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Beginners Guide to Channapatna Toys

Channapatna toys are a particular form of wooden toys that are manufactured in the town of Channapatna, a city located 60 km south-west of Bangalore in the Indian state of Karnataka. This traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization and has led to Channapatna being known as Gombegala Ooru (toy-town). Traditionally, the craft involved lacquering the wood of the Wrightia tinctoria tree, colloquially known as ivory-wood.

Indian_Bijou_Channapatna_Toys

History

The origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of Tipu Sultan who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of wooden toys in 18th century. Bavas Miyan is regarded as the father of Channapatna toy. He adopted Japanese technology for toys making and help the local artisans improve their art. For nearly two centuries, ivory-wood was the main wood used in the making of these toys, though rosewood and sandalwood were also occasionally used. The lacquering art of Channapatna is known for its mix of vegetable dye and food grade pigments, with natural residue obtained from the trees of Amaltaas and Kusum in West Bengal and Orissa.

Indian_Bijou_Channapatna_Butterfly_Toy

 

Manufacturing Process

Manufacturing stages includes procuring and seasoning the wood, cutting wood into the desired shape, pruning and carving the toys, applying the colors and then polishing the end product. Vegetable dyes are used in the coloring process to ensure that the toys and dolls are safe for use by children. Turmeric is used for yellow color , indigo powder for blue, and kumkum powder for orange and red.

This craft of making wooden toys is a family tradition that has been passed down multiple generations. The entire toy making industry is a small scale industry. Some are so small that the work is done right outside the homes of these skilled artisans. But, the majority of them are shops where four to six people can work together. Today, more than 6,000 people in Channapatna, working in nearly 300 home manufacturing units and 50 small factories, are engaged in this craft.

Indian_Bijou_Channapatna_Making

A promising future

For two centuries, the town produced toys for the domestic Indian market. The influx of Chinese toys battered its market and the town’s products were reduced to being souvenirs for tourists visiting Mysore. But today artisans are being trained on modern machines and they produce toys ranging from simple push, pull and stack toys to puzzles. The humble doll now sits in a Formula-One like racing car, wooden butterflies flap their wings while ducks waddle and paddle.  Besides toys, Channapatna has also started making a range of other products thanks to designers who are giving the craft a different edge and exposure. Today they make tableware, vases and candles holders using lacquer ware techniques traditionally applied to toy making. All these have found an international market with growing awareness about natural dyes. Michelle Obama, during her recent trip to India was very impressed with these toys from Channapatna and bought some of them to take back to the White House as mementos.

 

 

 

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Lehariya – The Rajasthani Art of Tie And Dye

Leheriya is a traditional style of tie dye practiced in Rajasthan, India that results in brightly colored cloth with distinctive patterns. It symbolizes the unique and rich costume heritage of Rajasthan. The technique gets its name from the Rajasthani word for wave because the dyeing technique is often used to produce complex wave patterns. Lehariya is distinguished by the natural, ripple effect in mesmerizing colours, using a colour resist dyeing technique. The wavy, diagonal stripes created through this technique look bewitching in brilliant colour combinations. These harmoniously arranged diagonal stripes were originally dyed in the auspicious colors of yellow and red.

Indian_BIjou_Lehariay_Pattern
Lehariya Print

The Making

It is the dyer’s extraordinary skill that paints magic onto a simple cotton. The cloth that is used in the process is traditionally of a lighter color, generally in cotton, silk but today can include chiffon and georgette also.  The cloth is tied and folded in such a manner that when opened post-dyeing, there is a striped pattern created on the cloth with color on every alternate stripe.  The material is rolled diagonally and certain portions resisted by lightly binding threads at a short distance from one another before the cloth is dyed. If the distance is shorter, then greater skill is required in preventing one colour from spilling into the other.

The process of dyeing is repeated until the requisite number of colours is obtained. Traditionally, craftsmen would tie and dip it in 5 different colors to get the desired pattern in multiple hues. Natural dyes are used with indigo for shades of blue, and Alizarin for the hues of red in the final stages. Depending on the skill and imagination of a worker, every fabric gets a new look, with vivid colors, fresh patterns and vibrant designs.

 

Motif

The leheriya style has been inspired by regions in and around Rajasthan. The motifs and designs often portray a sense of joy and colorfulness, retaining the simplicity of the culture of Rajasthan.

Indian_Bijou_Lehariay_Motif

 

Socio-Economic Aspect

In its earliest form, leheriya was a style mainly used in head turbans and was a standard part of male business attire in Rajasthan during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For a number of years, leheriya was a style that exclusively belonged to the Marwari community in Rajasthan. Those who belonged to the royal class wore blue leheriya attire.

Indian_Bijou_Lehariya_Turbans
Leharyia Turbans Of Rajasthani Men

As time progressed, leheriya was introduced in women clothing such as lehenga, salwar and sarees. Today one can find the style on ethnic and casual clothing, bags and shoes, as well as on scarves and cravats.

Leheriya is produced in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur and Nathdwara. It is offered for sale with most of its resist ties still in place as proof of authenticity, with a small portion of fabric unrolled to display its pattern.

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Ikat – The Indian Art of Resist – Dyeing

Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. This style is common to many world cultures and is probably one of the oldest forms of textile decoration. The technique seems to have developed independently across many different cultures and continents, appearing in places as diverse as Peru, Yemen, Japan, Indonesia, India and Uzbekistan. Ikat is an Indonesian language word but  is now a generic English loanword used to describe the process and the cloth itself regardless of where the fabric was produced or how it is patterned.

IndianBijou_Ikat_Designs

Technique

In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth. Because the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth, in ikat both fabric faces are patterned.

IndianBijou_Ikat_Weaving_Handloom

Designs and Socio-economic aspects

Ikat weaving has social, economic, ceremonial and traditional significance. Although they are similar in form from one region to another, ikats vary tremendously in decorative technique, design format and motif. Designs represent animals, birds, and floral, geometric or ancestral figure motifs. Every village or family has its own patterns and colours that tell them their history. This makes every ikat special and unique.

18th Century Ikat Designs

Process

The ikat process begins with bundles of warp threads being strung up on a frame, close together and properly tightened. A master weaver ties bundles of warp threads in precise patterns to prepare for colored dyes. Then the pattern is drawn on to them in outline. Bindings that resist dye penetration are applied in locations defined by the motif.

After the bindings required to protect all material that should not be coloured in the first round of dying are in place, the threads are taken off the frame and dipped in a dye bath. After dying, the bindings are cut away. The threads are strung onto the frame again and arranged carefully so that they match exactly. New bindings are put in place for all locations that should not receive colour in the second round of dying. Then the tied threads are taken off the frame again, dipped in the next dye bath – and so on until the desired multicoloured pattern has been created.

Next the weaver secures the dyed warp threads to the loom and checks for accuracy. Then he weaves the weft thread through, and the fabric design emerges.

 

Double Ikat (Patola)

Double ikats—in which both the warp and weft yarns are tied and dyed before being woven into a single textile—are relatively rare because of the intensive skilled labour required to produce them. They are produced in Gujarat in India, Okinawa in Japan, and Tenganan in Indonesia.

In India, double ikat is known as Patola. In India, the art of Patola is revered for its religious significance across many faiths and is used mainly for making sarees. Weaving a Patola sari requires immense amount of precision and patience. Today, there are only four existing Patola-making families striving to save the craft facing multiple threats – high investment of time and money, low returns, and lack of interest for continuing the craft among the younger generations.

Patola Process

The tying of yarns is an intricate and time consuming process, with measurements as small as 1/100th of an inch. The yarn undergoes multiple cycles of tying and dyeing, following a specific order of colors. The yarns have to be carefully arranged during and after dying, as displacement of even a single yarn can disturb the design arrangement and render the entire set of yarns useless. Every colour in every yarn has its own unique place in the sari and it has to be carefully aligned with the pattern while weaving. After every few inches of weaving, the design is adjusted using steel needles.  Two people have to work together on the Patola loom and it can take 6 months to a year to make one Patola sari.

 

Motif

Each of the motifs and colours have different significance in different communities. For example, the Vohra Gaji Bhaat is a favourite motif among the Vohra community. The Jains prefer abstract and geometric motifs. The elephant (kunjar), flower (phul), girl (nari) and parrot (popat) designs are very common in Patola saris worn by Gujarati women and the elephant and tiger motifs are considered particularly auspicious. The Pan Bhaat (Leaf Design) is one of the most common patterns. It is a motif indigenous to India and can be traced back to the Indus Valley era.

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Bandhani – The Indian Art of Tie And Dye

Tie and dye is among the simplest and the oldest form of textile dyeing. Tie-dye actually is a modern term to describe a set of ancient resist-dyeing techniques. The process consists of folding, twisting, or crumpling of fabric followed by application of dye. The manipulations of the fabric before the dye is applied are called resists, as they prevent the dye from coloring the fabric. Different types of tie and dyes have been practiced in India, Japan, and Africa for centuries. The dyes are mainly vegetable dyes extracted mainly from various parts of plants such as flowers, stem, leaves etc. Tie-dye is characterized by the use of bold patterns and bright primary colors such as yellow, red, green, orange etc.

In India, tie and dye technique is used in many variations on a wide range of fabrics, from cotton to silk. The Indian tie & dye can be classified into the following types:

  • The fabric is tied and dyed, like the Bandhani & Lehriya
  • The wrap is tied and dyed, like that in lkat
  • Both the wrap and weft are tied and dyed like that in Double lkat or Patola

Bandhani

The term `Bandhani` is derived from the word `Bandhan` that means tying up. Today most Bandhani making centers are situated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Tamil Nadu where it’s known as Sungudi. Places in Rajasthan like Jaipur, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Jamnagar in Gujarat are the well-known centres of Bandhani. Jamnagar was one of the earliest centres for bandhani in Gujarat as the water brings out the intensity of colour in the dye.

Indian Bijou_Bandhani_Dress

History & Socio-Cultural Aspect

The earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley Civilization around 4000 B.C. The earliest physical example of this craft is in the 6th century paintings depicting the life of Buddha on the wall of Ajanta caves. The art also finds its mentions in the books written during the time of Alexander the Great about the beautiful printed cottons of India.

The bandhani technique was taken to Gujarat in the 16th century by communities of craftsmen who migrated from Sind. The Khatri community of textile craftsmen, both Hindus and Muslims, have been producing bandhani since the 17th century.

Bandhani also has a socio-religious significance. The colours and patterns of the fabric worn by the person indicates their status and community. While red colour fabric represents a bride or recently married girl, a yellow background suggests a lady has become a mother recently. In Rajasthan, men tye turbans with different patterns of bandhani on their heads as a mark of identification of their community.

Indian_Bijou_Bandhani_Rajasthan_Turban
Rajasthani man wearing Bandhani Turban

Technique

The art of Bandhani is a highly skilled process. It is the women and girls who always carry out this delicate art as it is a skill very rarely exhibited by men. Knots are tied in two ways. One option requires raising the folds of the material with the pointed nails of the finger to create a little bunch around which thread may be tied. The second option requires use of filler materials, which are impregnated within the knots. Women can tie up to 700 knots in a single day. It’s relatively easier tying knots in silk or cotton for the woollen knots have to be reaffirmed by biting them with the teeth.

A single stole can have 4000 to 5000 knots, known as ‘Bheendi’ in the local language. These knots form a design once the cloth is opened after dyeing in bright colours. Traditionally, the final products can be classified into ‘Khombhi’, ‘Ghar Chola’, ‘Chandrakhani’, ‘Shikari’, ‘Chowkidaar’, ‘Ambadaal’ etc.

Indian_Bijou_Bandhani_Technique

Process

  • The first step is to wash and bleach the cloth to prepare the fabric for dyeing.
  • Once the bleaching is complete, the fabric is sent to the artisan.
  • The artisans then pulls on a small area of the fabric where there is an imprint of hole and winds thread tightly around the protruding cloth to form a knot or bhindi.
  • The knots may be sprinkled around the cloth or placed concisely to form intricate patterns.
  • The knots are covered with wax to resist the dye and the cloth is ready to be dyed. The fabric is passed over to the dyer who will dip this in the colour of choice.
  • Next the fabric is rinsed, squeezed, dried and then tied again and dipped in a darker color. This is kept for three to four hours (without opening the knots) to allow the color to soak in. During this process the small area beneath the thread resists the dye leaving an undyed dot. This is usually carried out in several stages starting with a light color like yellow, then after tying some more knots a darker color is used and so on.
  • After the last dyeing process has been completed the fabric is washed and if necessary, starched. After the fabric is dried, its folds are pulled apart in a particular way releasing the knots and revealing their pattern. The result is a usually deep colored cloth with dots of various colours forming a pattern.
  • The first colour dyed is a light colour. The portions which needs to remain light are again tied and the fabric dyed in a darker colour. The tie-and-dye process is repeated for as many colours as are required.

 

Indian_Bijou_Bandhani_Dyeing_Drying

Design Motifs

Very elaborate motifs are made, in tie and dye work. These include flowers, creepers, bells and Jalas. Knots are placed in clusters each with a different names such as

  • Beldaar – like a vine
  • Boond – a small dot with a dark centre
  • Chaubasi – in groups of four
  • Ekdali – a dot
  • Jaaldar – like a web
  • Kodi – tear or drop shaped
  • Laddu Jalebi – the swirling
  • Satbandi – in groups of seven
  • Shikargah – mountain‐like
  • Tikunthi – circles and squares appear in a group of three

  

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Tear Drop Motif

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A Short History of the Bobbili Veena

 

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Goddess Saraswti

Instrumental music has been an integral part of Indian culture for centuries. The “Saraswati Veena” has become synonymous with the tradition and culture of India. Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and the arts, is never seen without a Veena.  Although string instruments of almost all types are commonly referred to as “Veena”, there are multiple types of Veenas. Some of the main types of Veena are the Rudra Veena, the Saraswati Veena, the Vichitra Veena and the Chitra Veena. Veenas are also known by the town where they are made, for example, Tanjore Veena, Mysore Veena, etc. Veena players are often referred to as Beenkars  or Vainikas.

Indian_Bijou_Bobbili_Veena
Bobbili Veena

The Saraswati Veenas made in Bobbili, in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, are referred to as Bobbili Veena.  The town has a unique style of playing the Veena, the “Bobbili veena sampradayam”, developed over three centuries. The history of making these veenas dates back to the founder of Bobbili Kingdom, established in the 17th Century by Pedda Rayudu, when playing Veena was an important activity in social events. Veenas are made of jackfruit wood which is lightweight and possesses qualities like excellent reverberation, clear grain lines, great durability and minimum swelling in moisture. The uniqueness of the Bobbili Veenas is that they are carved out of a single log of wood. Such Veenas are also called ekandi Veena.

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Artisan with Bobbili Veena

The Bobbilli Veena have been traditionally supplied by Sarwasiddi community craftsmen. They obtained GI status for the instrument in 2012 and thus, protected it from extinction. The Bobbili veena is the second veena instrument in the country to be awarded the GI after The Thanjavur Veena.  But Bobbili Veena has remained a rural, small-scale industry.  There are around 30 families in a small village called Gollapalli near Bobbili, that are dependent on making this musical instrument for their livelihood. Bobbili and Vadada have now become more famous for producing ornamental miniature Veenas rather than the actual Veenas.

Indian_Bijou_Veena_Manufacture
Making Of A Bobbili Veena

 

Sarvasidhi Achutanarayana is the grandson of Sarvasidhi Acchanna, who invented the famed Bobbili Veena during the tenure of Raja Ravu Venkata Kumar Krishna Ranga Rao, the 12th king of the kingdom of Bobbili. Carrying on with the family tradition, Sarvasidhi Achyutha Narayana still keeps busy crafting these unique musical instruments at the age of 76 and guides the next generation in the art. But he says that notwithstanding its fame for its unique treble, the instrument no more enjoys its former status. “The professional Veena is vanishing, with not many people willing to learn it. Hence, we are now manufacturing the miniature versions which are gifted as mementos and memorabilia, to save the dying art.”

Indian_Bijou_Veena
Parts of Veena

A Bobbili Veena will take an average of 20 days to be made. Veena making is not a skill that can be mastered quickly; it’s not an instrument that anybody can make. First the craftsmen will select the jackfruit wood from the outskirts of the city. He will then create the bridge or ‘gori’ (the round part of Veena); a wooden sheet is later used to cover the bridge. Then a variety of designs, such as Goddess Saraswathi and peacock, are carved on it. A wide fretted neck is later attached to this round body. Pumpkin is used as a resonator to increase the duration of the note played, and also for balancing the Veena to stand still when musician is not holding the instrument. All the fibrous matter in the pumpkin is removed and dried in sun for around 3 days before attaching it on the underside of the neck..

A pipe is screwed to the top of the pumpkin and connected to dandi to transfer the sound to pumpkin. A major change in the material has occured in the decorative inlay work, which used to be done on elephant tusks, now replaced by plastic. The most difficult & time-consuming task in manufacturing a Veena is embedding the 24 metal frets on a hardened wax. The artisan uses brass plates and strings are tied to them. He has to make sure that the tune of one string is perfectly in-sync with the other. The smallest mistake on the part of the artisan will spoil the instrument. But when perfection is maintained, the music that resonates from this instrument of Saraswati is divine and magical.

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Gorgeous Kannadiga Bridal Jewellery

Traditional Kannadiga jewellery is every girl’s dream. Kannada wedding jewellery is gorgeous and contemporary, soaked in the ethos and culture of the state.  The following image shows some of the most common elements of Kannadiga traditional bridal jewellery

Indian Bijou_Kannada_Wedding_Jewellery

 

Netri Chutti

In other parts of the country, it is known as maang tikka. It draws attention to the bride’s eyes and forehead. White and red stones are commonly used in this traditional piece but these days coloured stones are also being used.

Indian Bijou_Kannada_Wedding_Jewellery

 

Muthina Vale Jhimki

This is the bridal earring worn by the Kannadiga bride. It is available in long, short and medium patterns. Depending on the design, it is embellished with diamonds or precious gemstones

Indian Bijou_Kannada_Wedding_Jewellery

Hara

This is the main bridal necklace that is worn around the neck. The Hara is usually designed as long and thick chains with a pendant

Indian Bijou_Wedding_Kannada_Jewellery

 

Guruvina Kada

These are the bridal bangles. As is customary in the rest of the country, the bridal bangles are meant to be heavy, ornamental, traditional and exquisite. Apart from Guruvina Kada, Kannadiga bangle styles also includes designs such as Kettu Bale, Pacha Kampina Bale and Kasina Bale.

Indian Bijou_Wedding_Kannada_Jewellery

Pacha Kempina Ungaru

This is the ring worn by a Kannadiga bride. It is usually embellished with rubies and emerald.

Indian Bijou_Wedding_Jewellery_Kannada

 

Laxmi Sara

This is another necklace worn by the bride. The pendant on this neckalace bears the image of Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth

Indian Bijou_Kannada_Wedding_Jewellery

 

Hebbat

This is the bridal toe ring. The toe ring is of tremendous significance to a married woman across India and is usually made of silver. But with the changing fashion trends, women today wear toe rings of many different colours and designs

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Beautiful Bengali Wedding Jewellery

West Bengal has always taken pride in its culture which is evident through the cuisine, art and craft, music and lifestyle of people living here. In a similar vein, jewellery also reflects the tradition of Bengal. Weddings and other occasions are the best places where you can see a huge array of Bengali jewellery of latest as well as antique designs. Apart from gold, jewellery is made from ivory, silver and other lesser known metals. But gold is one of the most prominent metals used for carving jewellery items of Bengal. This is because Bengalis believe that prosperity and happiness thrives in gold. Bengali brides wear a lot of gold especially during the marriage ceremony. Here is a list of some exquisite designs that you can find in Bengali jewellery.

Bauti

This gold based bangle design is such that the bangle is actually ‘half-cut’ instead of a full bangle. This design reduces the amount of gold used in making the bangle. They are cost-effective and apt for regular use by married Bengali women

Indian_Bijou_Bengali_Bauti_Jewellery

Choker or Chik

Choker is closely-fitting neck wear that is worn on the higher part of the neck. It is broad in shape and is supposed to worn in such a way that it does not reach the ‘collar bone’ in any way. Chik or a gold choker is almost an inch wide and studded with diamonds, pearls or precious stones.

Indian_Bijou_Choker_bengali_jewellery

Chur

Traditional gold bracelets in Bengal are called ‘Chur’ and have elegant designs carved on them. Although they are available in pairs you can buy one piece to create your own style statement. Hefty amount of gold is required to make ‘chur’ and the weight can reach up to a staggering 50gm.

 Indian_Bijou_Chur_Bengali_Jewellery

Hunsuli

Bengali Muslim women prefer to wear silver more than gold although they have no inhibitions for gold jewellery metal. ‘Hunsuli’ is a popular sliver necklace that Bengali Muslim women wear. Fine and delicate craftsmanship is displayed through this necklace.

 Indian_Bijou_Hunsuli_Bengali_Jewellery

Jhumko

Also called ‘chandelier’ earrings in English, Jhumko or Jhumka is a chandelier earring with floral motif designs. It is hugely popular among the Bengali women. Jhumkas are mainly designed with a round chhatri (umbrella shape) in its bottom, but now a days these chhatri designs are replaced by different shapes like, triangles, squares etc.

Indian_Bijou_Jhumko_bengali_Jewellery
Kaan

‘Kaan’ is Bengali word for ears. This gold jewellery is shaped as the human ear is supposed to cover the entire ear when worn. Bengali brides flaunt this ornament during marriage ceremonies. A huge amount of this precious metal is used for making this ‘kaan’ which comes up to a minimum of 15gm for each ear

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Nath

These are traditional gold nose rings that are worn after having the nose pierced. The ‘Nath’ is traditionally a large-sized nose ring in the Bengali culture and it is said that the larger the size of the ring is, the more affluent the family is. This is the reason for families encouraging the use of the large-sized nose rings during festivities and other important occasions.

Paati Haar

Paati haar is a very old and traditional design of Bengali ethnic jewellery. It is very commonly worn neck piece among Bengali ladies from rich families. Earlier, married women had to wear heavy gold jewellery to maintain their status. But those gold jewellery designs were mainly made up of golden wires and were very complex in design, thus it was very difficult to wear them all the time. So, jewellery designers came up with a solution where they made a flat, broad neck-piece that was mainly made up of comfortable gold joints with heavy amount of gold in it, so that the ladies from rich families can maintain their fashion and status with comfort. This broad heavy gold necklaces came to be known as Paati haar.

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Tikli

Tikli is a traditional Bengali forehead ornament worn by Bengali brides on the middle parting of her hair, are laced with a string of pearls and studded with a precious stone or beautiful gold design incorporated with excellent craftsmanship.

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Tairaa

Similar to the tiaras worn in the Western culture by the brides, this gold ornament is used to hold the veils of a Bengali bride at the wedding ceremony. The Bengali bridal “orna”, unlike the heavy embellised dupattas of rest of India, is made of tulle or tissue fabric. To hold these lightweight veils, a taira comes in handy. It is said that this piece of jewellery was inspired by the British fashion of yesteryears when they were the rulers of the country. Bengali women found the Christian wedding veil very attractive, and included it in Bengali wedding, only the color of the veil was different the bengali veils used to come in a pure crimson red color. A ‘tairaa’ is basically ‘tiara’ and ‘mangtika’ combined to offer an elegant and graceful look to the new bride.

Ratanchur

The last of the top traditional gold ornaments of Bengal is the ‘ratnachur’. Ratanchur is made in gold and has its origin from the Mughal culture. It begins from five fingers followed in each hand and thumb and Ratanchur has five chains attached to each ring .Many of these have decorated moon, lotus and sun at the back of the hand.

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Enchanting Silver Jewellery of Kutch

During the 19th century, Kachchhi silver was made famous by colonialists who featured silverworks in some of the Great Exhibitions in France and England. Kutch silver is known for its white quality which resists tarnish. The artisans use brightly coloured glass called meena to accentuate traditional designs.

Today, traditional silver tribal jewellery remains an integral part of village dress. Jewellery is not just a means for embellishment, but is a mark of identity, a display of wealth and therefore, a symbol of pride. Also, being mostly of nomadic origins, the people here have little or no security. So, the precious metal is actually a way of investment, generally worn in the purest possible form and always kept under vigilance. The tribals fall back upon these ornaments at the time of natural calamity. A traditional tribal woman can be seen wearing ½ to 1 Kg of silver ornaments every day. The silver articles are not just ornamental but also serve useful purpose. Women wear broad kadas with poky nail like protrusions on the surface, which is a traditional design, but it provides safety from wild animals when they are in the forest, rearing cattle and collecting wood. Thoriya, a stud, is said to be important for acupuncture points, to ensure good health. The ornaments are used daily and hence; often one can find things of utility like toothpicks and ear cleaners in silver, dangling in the form of lockets.

Each silversmith specializes in a particular tribal jewellery tradition, creating an array of products from bangles to earrings to anklets. The jewellers and the communities where they work have strong relationships since they have lived and worked together for generations.  Age-old trade links with Arabian, Persian and European countries have greatly influenced the form and the style of these ornaments. As a result, there are some thirty-five different kinds of the earrings alone for the various communities (like Rabari, Ahir, Bharvad, Jat, Satvaras).

Rabaris can be easily identified by looking at their women folk, who are usually clad with long black head scrapes, distinctive heavy brass earrings which hang low, stretching the earlobes. They tattoo magical symbols on their necks, breasts and arms. Their jewellery is modest in comparison to other tribal women.

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The Vatla is a spiral necklace worn by Harijan women.  Nagali, spring earrings are a sign of marriage.

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Bungri or Phul, worn in helix by Rabari and Bharvad men, sits on top of the ear like an umbrella and is a prime mark for the identity of tribal men of this region.

male jewellery

Jewellery Making Process

Procured in the form of biscuits and bricks from Rajkot and Ahmedabad, silver undergoes a number of processes before shining against the dusky background of its patron. A variety of techniques are employed by the artisan to get the desired effect while making these traditional marvels.

The artisans emboss and cut, spring wind thin and thick wires to get conical shapes, beat patterns and make concentric wire filigrees with granulation. Silver is mostly preferred in its original color, only in some cases to add accents, Meena work is done.

Post Earthquake

The 2001 Earthquake had a massive impact on Kutch silver craft. Houses and the workplaces of silver traders, silversmiths, and the small Kansara artisan community got damaged. Local communities, which form the major market for silver jewellery, were also affected by the disaster. Shops were closed for 18-24 months and artisans were without work. Some turned to wage labour, some changed their trade, and some remained unemployed. These factors led to a debilitating cycle of low liquidity, low investment in silver, and low production.

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