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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.