Compiled by London Swaminathan
Date: 21 November 2016
Time uploaded in London: 17-51
Pictures are taken from various sources; they are representational only; thanks.
HINDU ORNAMENTS (Abharanam) -Part 1
“Fathers, brothers, husbands and brothers-in-law who wish for great good fortune should revere women and adorn them -Manu 3-55
“The deities delight in places where women are revered -3-56
“Where the women of the family are miserable, the family is soon destroyed 3-57
“Men who wish to prosper should always revere women with ornaments, clothes and food at celebrations and festivals Manu 3-59
Nowhere in the world women can get such a big support like in India. Manu was the best advocate for women in the ancient world.
PROBABLY in no country in the world is the love of personal ornament so manifest as it is in India. The sight of the great princes in full gala dress is a dream of brightness and wealth; and even the poorest day labourer manages to possess some ornament, if it is only a silver, or even copper ring for his finger, or toe.
Any little extra gain and savings are almost invariably invested in jewels. The owner is happy if on gala days he can adorn himself, or his family with so much jewellery; and he likes to be spoken of as a man possessing so many rupees worth of the same. A man’s wealth is often spoken of as the possession of so much in jewels.
Hidu Jewellery 2300 years ago! Bharhut Yakshi
Proverbs on Jewels and Ornaments
It is an investment for future, the Hindus believe.
A Telugu proverb says,
Jewels worn for ornament will be useful in times of difficulty.
Jewels are often a subject of quarrels in Indian families. If one woman has more than another, the peace in the house is disturbed. There is a Sanskrit saying current which ironically expresses this,
Namakaram (obeiyance) to gold which which creates enmity between mother and son
And a Telugu proverb says
Even though the brother-in-law has to go to prison, the elder sister must have her anklets.
The ordinary Indian distrusts the goldsmith and takes trusty friends to watch the process of his piece of gold being made into an ornament for his wife.
Popular sayings are,
A goldsmith will steal a scrap of his mother’s nose ring!
The jewel belongs to the wearer, but the gold remains with the jeweller.
The metal employed in jewellery is, as a rule, good of its kind. The gems worn by the lower orders often false, but the setting is almost invariably of pure gold or silver.
Lord Vishnu’s jewellery, Thailand
Ornaments for Men
Men have the ear, both the different parts of the outer rim and the lobe, pierced for various kinds ornaments. They also have the nose pierced for a small jewel. It may be done in either one of the nostrils, or in the div on between the two. They often wear old or silver beads round the neck which are sometimes used as a rosary. It is very common to wear a silver or gold belt round the waist. This is often made in circular or square plates, joined together each plate being either plain or ornamented with embossed or raised work. Even an ordinary coolie, or labourer, may be seen wearing one of these silver belts. Men wear bracelets on the upper arm and on the wrist; the latter sometimes beautifully ornamented. They wear more rings on the fingers than the females and sometimes thegems in these rings are very valuable.
Probably the most valuable part of a man’s ornaments are the gems in his ear-rings, and finger rings. A man may have very little on in the shape clothing, the lobes of his ears are ornamented with diamonds of great value. Sometimes a man has a ring on his big toe.
There is an idea that it is beneficial to health, for a toe ring is said to benefit impaired energies.
Hindus’ Peculiar custom
There is a peculiar custom prevalent amongst the Hindus, when a child is born to a married pair after a long time, or one survives after several have died in infancy. In such a case, and especially if it be a boy, but also sometimes in the ease of girl, the parents will beg money from their friends and even from strangers— the money must be obtained this way — and with what is realized, they get jewels made for the ear and nose, to be worn as amulets. It must at least be enough for one ear and one nostril but if sufficient is obtained to meet cost, both ears and both nostrils are thus ornamented. When these are once put on, they are never removed. Great danger would be incurred by removing these charms. It is very dangerous for a visitor to praise ornaments of a child. Praise of this kind is believed to bring a nemesis with it, or it may suggest envious glance of the malignant,”
12 ornaments for Head alone!
The ornaments for women are naturally far more numerous. There are no less than twelve different kinds for the head alone. Probably this does not exhaust the list, but these are those in ordinary use, either for gala days or for every day wear. There is an ornament called the betel leaf, made of gold, ornamented with little balls along its edges, and worn on the top of the head towards the front. Another ornament made into the shape of the petal of a certain Indian flower is worn just behind it. Next comes a large circular ornament named after the Indian chrysanthemum, and placed at the end of the chignon, which is worn at the side and not at the back of the head. A golden sun-flower, with a crescent attached to it by links, is put on the crown of the bead. These four ornaments are in ordinary wear by well to do females; those hereafter mentioned are, as a rule only worn on gala days.
An ornament, shaped an inverted A, sometimes set with pearls, is worn on the forehead, the angle being attached to the hair the line with the parting. Pendant from is a locket adorned with pearls. On the hair in front and just between the shaped A shaped ornament and the betel shaped one are two jewels; the one on the right is called the sun, and the one on the left, being of a crescent shape, is named the moon. Both of these are sometimes adorned with precious stones.
There is also a kind of gold buckle worn on the side of the chignon, which is used for attaching to it any artificial hair that may be necessary to make the bunch of the approved size and appearance.
An ornament like a chrysanthemum with an emerald in the centre is also worn on the chignon
On great occasions, such as her wedding day or other gala days, a Hindu lady may have all these ornaments on at the same time. There are two head ornaments that are worn instead of those on the chignon, when the wearers are young girls. Their hair is plaited into a tail, hanging straight down behind, and beautified with a long ornament of gold, often set with precious stones. At the end of this yet another article is attached, consisting of a bunch of gold ball- like ornaments fastened on with silk.
Strange as it may seem to Western ideas, ornaments frequently attached to the nose by Hindu ladies. Each nostril and the cartilage between the two are pierced, and one or other of the following ornaments are attached to the nose.
First there is pendant from the centre, hanging down over the upper lip. In the middle of this ornament there is a stone of some kind and pendant from that again is a pearl. Into one of the nostrils a short pin with a precious stone as a head is put. A pendant pearl is attached it. Into the other nostril a flower-shaped jewel of gold and small pearls may be put. These three jewels are in daily wear by those who can afford them. For high days and holidays, a ring, sometimes as large round as a rupee and ornamented with pearls or precious stones, is worn in one of the nostrils; whilst the other may be a flower-like jewel of smaller size. A half-moon shaped ornament is also attached to a nostril. It is not possible to have all these on at one and the same time; but a number can be thus worn together.
15 Ear ornaments
There are at least four parts of the ear, and some times even more, that are pierced to enable the various ornaments to be attached to it.
I have a list of fifteen different kinds of ear-jewels, all known by different names. Some are of ornamented gold, whilst others are richly set with gems and pearls, according to the means of the owner. Some are for the lobe of the ear and some for the tip and middle of the outer rim, each place being pierced for the purpose. There is also a hole pierced in the little prominence in front of the external opening of the ear which is made to serve the purpose of holding a jewel. The variety of neck ornaments is very great. I have the names of twenty-four. The style and quality differ very largely Some are tight bands, fitting close round the neck, usually composed of flat gold beads or tablets strung together on silken or other cord. Amongst poorer people the gold beads are alternated with those of coloured glass. Some of the neck ornaments are loose hanging chains. A very favourite neck jewel is composed of gold coins, or French five or ten francs Australian sovereign pieces, or the old Indian gold mohur.
There are jewels for the upper part of the arm and for the wrists. Those for the upper part are like bracelets of various kinds. Some are like chains and some are merely plain bands, whilst others are beautifully in various patterns. Others are ornamented with precious stones.
Source: The Hindu at Home, By Rev.Padfield, Year 1908
To be continued……………………………