Ornaments and Jewellery

Precious or cheap, love for ornaments and jewelry is a universal phenomenon, though it may vary from place to place, nation to nation and tribe to tribe. The use of precious metals and stones for ornaments started probably when man left his wandering habits and preferred to settle at a place and took to agriculture. The ornaments and jewellery were well sought for and were collected and preserved for good and bad times. The term ornament means an object which is worn with a view to adorning oneself. Jewellery stands collectively for jewels and art of making them.

There are different kinds of jewellery and ornaments for different age groups, but married woman has greater choice in the quality and quantity. Ornaments and jewellery for a married woman is a sign of Suhag – happy marital order and it is only the demise of her husband which deprives her of their use for rest of her life. There are ornaments which are of daily use to the woman, others related only to the special occasions. In the urban areas these ornaments are in gold and are light wear, but as we pass on into the remote parts, they appear heavier and bolder and mostly in silver. Not only women, but when a child takes birth and grows by a few days he is adorned with small silver bangles (Kanganu), anklets and amulets. Around his waist is tied a ‘tagari’ with hollow beads of silver attached to it.

The women in Himachal love jewellery. A hill women has an instinctive desire for ornaments. The more the number of ornaments, the better off a person is considered to be economically. The Himalayan ornaments and jewellery have two characteristics about them. Gold being a rare metal, the Himalayan women satisfy their craze with silver and other less costly metals. Secondly, the use of heavy ornaments and jewellery with bold designs, excepting a fewer light gold ornaments, all ornaments are made of silver. The parts of body for which ornaments are commonly made are the head, forehead, ears, nose, neck, arms, wrists, fingers, ankles and toes. The ornament worn by Himachali women are :

  • ‘Chaunk’ or ‘Chak’ ornament fastened on the head (Silver as well as of Gold). This is very popular among the mature women and young ladies. With the incoming of urban fashions and tastes, it has disappeared from the low lying areas, while the women of upper regions have retained their liking for it. There are great variety so far as the shape, size and designs are concerned.
  • Chiri a silver ornament fastened to the hair by a chain. In some parts of the hills, it is called ‘dora’, while elsewhere in India, ‘Shrinagrpatti’. It is also called ‘mong’ or ‘mang-tikka’, which is suggestive of the place the ornament occupies. Chiri  has, as its components, two wire strips, star-shaped pieces of metal linked with each other and small ‘pipal leaves’ or drop hung along the lower edge.
  • Chip’ Silver ornament clipped in the hair
  • Phers’ are four to five small earrings worn in each ear. The ornament carries intricate decorative work on it. A pair of such rings weighs between 15-30 grams.
  • Balis’ are golden earrings.
  • Jhumkas’ are earrings and also known as Karanphul. The ornament has two parts, the plaque and the pendant that latter taking the shape of a bell. When the ornament is without, the ball, it is known as ‘dhodhu’ or ‘dedi jumka’.
  • Braga’ is bigger than ‘Bala’ has two round pearls and a conical turquoise in between.
  • Dandi’ is a simple ear ring with half of its portion covered with coiled thin wire. When the drops are put on the ring in place of the coiled wire, it is called ‘Dandi Boronwali’.
  • Bundes’ are tops of smaller size available in many designs.
  • Litkani’ is a sort of Bunde with main body triangular.
  • Gol’ is an earring favorite among Gujjars belle. It is fairly large in size and has tinsels and hollow beads attached to it among with a wire-knit chain.
  • Kan-phul’ is a bunch of silver flowers. In some places, it is known as ‘pharloc’ or ‘gokharu’. The ornaments has two parts, the plaque and the pendant, the latter taking the shape of a bell.
  • Koka’  is a small gold knob, weighing only a gram or two. It carries a ‘thewa’ – small shining glass or jewel-on its head, followed by a hollow pin to which another pin is fitted from inside the nose. Koka finds favour with young ladies both married and unmarried all over the state. Being smaller in size it is used casually.
  • Phuli’ is a nose ornament and is worn like a tili or Koka. It is generally star shaped with a ‘nug’ or ‘jewel’ in the centre. While the face of the phuli may appear in the gold, the back that is small pin is in silver.
  • Laung’ is a gold studded nose top. The ornament takes its name from clove. It takes its shape after a round disc with convex form. The disc is sometimes studded with a nug in the centre. The ornament weighs between five to ten grams. It is quite popular in Mandi Bilaspur district.
  • Balu’ is a large nose ring studded with some cheap imitation. It is also called ‘besar’, is sometimes so heavy as 40 grams and so big as ten centimeters in diameter. The big ring is supported with a small chain fitted somewhere in the hair. Due to size, it is used only on some special occasions.
  • Tili’ is a small nose top weighing only a gram or so. It is the most popular ornament of daily use. Weighing only a few grams the tili of the ear does not differ much from that of the nose, but very few ladies have liking for it as for this part of the body bold ornaments with some beautiful designs are preferred.
  • Baluk’ is a golden ornament for nose, which can be seen hanging from the centre of the nose. Since baluk for nose is big in size, the ornament that is preferred by the rural women folk for day-to-day in ‘nath’, which has a small ring. Nath is usually made with simple designs while intricate designs are preferred for baluks.
  • Kantha’ or ‘Kanthi’ is an ornament with silver beads tied to a thread, worn round the neck and weighs about 50 grams. It is also called as mala, kandhri or upalka. When the beads are threaded into several silver strings and triangular plaques and added at each end, the necklace is known as Kach, Patkachong or Kachong. This Kantha is heavier than an ordinary mala.
  • Chandrahar’ has several chains made of star shaped units and have at their ends triangular plaques with fine enamel work thereon. This ornament is also not much in use now.
  • Locket’ or ‘Ranihar’ is an ornament for neck which is quite favorite among town ladies. It has no fixed design. But every design finds favour with women folk. Ranihar is largely weigh heavy and is the ornament of rich ladies only.
  • Tandeera’ or ‘Hansi’ or ‘Hanseeri’ a neck ornament made of solid metal with circumference between 35 to 50 centimeters. It is different from hanging pendants. Its central half is thicker than the other half which has knobs on its two ends.
  • Singi’ worn mainly with an objective to bring in good luck and keep the malignant spirits away. It is a pipe shaped ornament with a bend in the centre and is sometimes hung with drops downwards.
  • Dhol’ is a neck ornament, with a cylindrical shape. It has at its ends oval hooks meant for the thread by which it hangs down. While Dhol is a favorite of rural women, the pendant liked by the urban women is ‘nam’ and it is generally made in gold. It has a plaque in the shape of a betel leaf which is tied with a multi couloured thread. In the tribal areas same ornaments are made in silver metal.
  • Bang’ or ‘Churi’ is the commonest wear of the wrist. Bang is favoured by the women of all age groups. It is simple ring of gold or silver wire, the upper surface getting an impression of some design.
  • Band’ is wider, thicker and heavier than the ordinary bangles. Usually it is made in silver metal. When the band appears with clusters of drops attached to it near the edge, it is known as ‘pariband chhankangani’ or ‘ghungrooal’. The largest in this category is Chura, about 12 to 15 centimeters long and weighing between 300-350 grams in silver.
  • Mundris’ are gold ring. Ring is generally called ‘anguthi’ and is most popular with both sexes. In Kinnaur, it is called ‘Lakshap’. It weighs between five to ten grams. In the lower middle hills it is called by such as ‘mundari’, ‘mundi’ or ‘chhap’.
  • Jhanjhar’ is a pair of large hollow rings which are thick in the centre but are narrowed down towards ends. The ends are given the shape of a star. A small bits of stones are put inside the ornament and one can hear the jingling sound with every movement of the feet.
  • Tora’ is also an anklet. It is a chain like ‘pajeb’ but has no drops attached to it.
  • Pajeb’ are silver anklets. Weighing about a quarter of a kilogram. Has a great variety and known by popular names as ‘Shakuntala Chain’, ‘Gulshan patti’ and ‘Phulu’. The ornament chain has on its lower edge a number of small and large drops which serve the same purpose as the Jhanjar.
  • Anguthari’ is a silver ring for toe and ‘Anguthare’ is a silver ring for big toe. The other ornaments for the toes are Chhalla, which includes Bichhu, Phullu, Guthara etc.   

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