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Indian Crafts >> Jewellery
Jewellery
Indian Crafts - Jewellery
History of Jewellery

Jewellery making in India is the most distinctive, highly artistic and elaborate craft. The simple motifs are brought from the immediate environment and developed into artistic and stylized patterns. Soldering process played an important role in the manufacture of ornaments during 4th century B.C. Between 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D repousse work was carried out. This technique continued in the Gupta period also. The basic technique followed by ancient Indian jewellers is still in practice.

Jewellery making in India is the most distinctive, highly artistic and elaborate craft. The simple motifs are brought from the immediate environment and developed into artistic and stylized patterns. Soldering process played an important role in manufacture of ornaments during 4th Century B.C. Between 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. repousse work was carried out. This technique continued in Gupta period also. The basic technique followed by ancient Indian jewellers is still practiced. Apart from metal, lac is extensively used for making attractive ornaments. Lac is a resinous substance produced by a female lac insect and found abundantly in the plain forests in India.

In India, jewels have been thought to possess qualities that elevate them from being mere articles of ornaments whether it is the ephemeral fragrance of flowers, or the more permanent contiguity of beads, shells, feathers, fibres, gems and metals, the effect on the human skin and body is more than just decorative. Rajasthan has for several centuries excelled in jewellery. Gold jewellery is an important and ancient craft of the region. Jaipur is known for its distinctive enamel or cloisonne work - for its purity of colour and for the evenness with which it is applied.A rich variety of silver jewellery is also produced in Rajasthan. Nathdwara is the most important centre for enameled silver jewellery.

The story of Indian Jewellery can be traced right back to very ancient times. Various kinds of ornaments are mentioned in the Rig Veda. The bead-makers of Chenhu-Daro and Harappa and Mohanjodaro were skilled craftsmen with a knowledge of gold and silver soldering. Even in the great classic, the Ramayana a mention of Indian jewellery is made

The jewellery and Gold smith artisans of India are as old civilization. The Indian craftsmen in ornaments and jewellery are very famous for their craftsmanship. Jewellery has become an integral part of every festive occasion in India. It is a tradition to give ornaments to every girl at the time of her marriage.

Jewellery making in India is the most distinctive, highly artistic and elaborate craft. The simple motifs are brought from the immediate environment and developed into artistic and stylized patterns. Soldering process played an important role in the manufacture of ornaments during 4th century B.C. Between 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. repousse work was carried out. This technique continued in Gupta period also.

Jewellery making in India is the most distinctive, highly artistic and elaborate craft. The simple motifs are brought from the immediate environment and developed into artistic and stylized patterns. Soldering process played an important role in manufacture of ornaments during 4th century B.C. Between 2nd century B.C. and 1st century A.D. repousse work was carried out. This technique continued in Gupta period also. The basic technique followed by ancient Indian jewelers is still practiced. Apart from metal, lac is extensively used for making attractive ornaments. Lac is a resinous substance produced by a female lac insect and found abundantly in the plain forests in India.

The jewellery from Himachal Pradesh has ethnic charm and a traditional flair. The delicate craftsmanship has an Old World Charm which blends exquisitely and engraving is done with precision and skilful interpretation of the designers mind.

The folk and tribal jewellery of Arunachal Pradesh is so varied, both in materials used, which include lac, glass, shells and beads, as well as in designs and mode of wearing. Each tribe is renowned for its particular tradition in jewellery. In addition to these ornaments, articles such as silver and brass pipes, silver bowls, swords with silver covers with fine designs engraved on them are also important crafts.

Jewellery in India is on a magnitude that has perhaps few parallels. It seems that for every part of the human body a special ornament has to be provided. But the significance of Indian jewellery lies outside of its amplitude, in variety and aesthetics. It is in fact a part of the Indian culture, a facet of its social pattern with deep religious overtones and has to be viewed against this perspective.

Jewellery became a form of investment as also saving for emergencies. The jewellery given to the bride at the time of the marriage became legally her own possession called stridhan(woman wealth).For wearing of jewellery or fine adornment has been obligatory in India for all important occasions, even if the ritual be private or a family affairs. The wide range in jewellery resemble largely items from the distinctive local and regional varieties.
Fine Art
Today the fashion concept is on the matching accessories irrespective of the preciousness of the material. The jewellery, which was earlier the form of accumulation of wealth, is now a part of a fashion presentation. This has brought wider inclusion of various cheap materials, which reduce price and thus can be afforded in a larger range by the wearer.

Folk jewellery of India is never valued for the preciousness of the material used.The ornamentation and decorations lay more emphasis on the aesthetic rather than the money value.Lac is extensively used for making attractive rings etc.Traditionally, it was customary for a married woman among tribal and folk community to wear Lac bangle.Today, several Lac bangles are a popular fashion accessory.

Rajasthan has a variety of ear tops, phul-jhumka is a bell-shaped flower, Karanphul is a star-shaped flower, toti is the image of a parrot, lathan is the image of a grape, pipal-patti is shaped like a pipal leaf. Rajasthan is rich in silver ornaments. Amongst its hair adornments is morpatta, (a chaplet of peacock feathers and rakhadi, a flat ornamented piece. Rakhadi is an essential item in the South, which consists of a coloured gem set flat in a beautifully ornamented circular medal with repousse work. A companion piece is set with stones. Along with them are worn two gem-set hair jewels one shaped around for the sun and the other crescent for the moon.The south has a magnificent chased longish five headed cobra, which hangs down from the head covering the entire plait. The bindi has the shape of a crescent or two swans.

The designs are inspired by the landscape, birds, fruits, leaves and flowers and are engraved on ornaments. Wide closefitting bracelets embossed with Chinar leaves, triangular pendants with replicas of the saffron blossom, earrings, oxidized silver jewellery especially of the Tibetan style and a wide range of other Kashmir jewellery is well known for its quality and charm.

The design in ornaments be it ear-rings, bangles, bracelets, necklaces etc. the artisans usually work on and produce conventional traditional designs.

Delhi is famous for its jewellery, which is highly artistic and elaborate. Delhi has an overwhelming range of costume jewellery in irresistible styles and spectacular designs. Necklaces and ear rings, made of colonial beads, coral pearls and in conjuction of metal pieces are a treat for the eye. Hair strings, made of soft silk thread and beads. Adding colour and festivity to the occasion, it is a favourite among women and in a range to match the variety of outfits.

Lac and glass combine to form a special kind of jewellery by decorating it with spangles or beads. Some are coated with ground tin powder as paint, then covered with a tinted transparent varnish to give a metallic glimmer. To silver the bangles, tin foil is mixed with dry glue, then pounded, washed and boiled and left to stand until a silvery glue gets formed which is spread on the lac as varnished. When dry it is rubbed with glass beads. The bangles are sometimes further ornamented with glass beads, bits of tin or copper foil stuck along the edge.



The jewellery worn by tribal women varies according to their customs. Some tribes make jewellery with blue - feathered wings of beetles. Wanchos make armlets with ivory, cane and bamboo. The Akas make bamboo bangles and ear-rings which are decorated with burnt poker work design. Idu Misimis of Lohit area are fond of silver ornaments. The Apatani women wear nose plugs, being larger and more decorative.

Haryana, is famous for its jewellery, which is highly artistic and elaborate. It has the vigour and sturdiness in style associated with the children of the soil and the beauty of designs borrowed from simple motifs picked from the immediate environment. The motifs have been developed into artistic, stylized patterns like the mor-morni pattern which occurs repeatedly. It is amazing, how many of the old designs have remained unaltered through the ages particularly in folk jewellery.

Jewellery of various design in gold and silver, and set with precious stones, is manufactured by sonegars or goldsmiths. Gold pendants set with rubies and pearls are characteristic of Mysore jewellery. Vessels made of silver or gold such as cups, plates, dishes, tumbler, attardanis etc. are largely used by upper classes and are given as presents for festive occasions. The jewellery for deities in the big Hindu temples is often made of gold and silver. The ornaments now in use are lighter and more ornate in workmanship than those of generation ago.
Procedure
Metal sheets generally of brass, silver, aluminium and wires of different gauge and dimension are required to make the basic shapes of the jewellery. Sheets are cut into hexagons, rectangles, square or any other geometric shapes so required for the ornament. The design is engraved on this metal sheet by a pointed chisel. Hammers and mallets are used for large depressions. Wires of different thickness in round or half round shape are prepared & then plaited, knitted or twisted according to the design. Thin wires are used for making chains and oval hook links. After shaping of different pieces of the ornament, they are joined together by soldering. Then the ornament is filed and scrapped to remove rough edges, scratches, solder spots etc. by files and emery paper. The ornament is ready for polishing. This is done either by a solution of soap nuts and red sand or by alum salt, sulphric acid etc.

The natural lac sticks are mixed with colours to prepare coloured lac sticks. The sticks are slowly heated on charcoal fire simultaneously beating with wooden spatula and routed after forming the required length of coil. It is cut from the main stick and all the ends are joined together to give it round shape. It is further put on a circular wooden beam and slipped through various heights for different sizes. After removing it from it the circular rot it is decorated with glass pieces beads etc.

The sheets of gold are prepared by melting the metal. The gold leaf is beaten to give a required shape, which is embossed with motifs such as figures of birds and animals, landscape, flowers and esoteric symbols. The ornaments consist of a coloured gem set flat in a beautifully ornamented circular metal, with granular repousse work. A companion piece is set with stones. A huge number of silver ornaments are also produced. Meenakari, the beautiful enamel work is done on both gold and silver ornaments. This involves the fusion of coloured minerals, such as cobalt oxide for blue and copper oxide for green, on the surface of the metal giving the effect of precious stone inlay work. The particular mode employed is known as champleve where the metal is engraved or chased in such a way as to provide depressions within which the colours can be embedded. The colours are applied in order of their hardness, those requiring more heat first and those less, later.



Metal is melted in crucible and heated over a bhatti of coal or gas. The melted metal are poured into a mould. Water is poured over it, after it gets cooled. The flat thin plate form is heated through blow pipe on wax or kerosene lamp. It is cut and made into the shape and size of the required ornament. If the ornaments are to be made in pure silver, it is melted directly. For mixed silver ornaments, copper is added to silver as per the choice of the ornament. For imitation jewellery, plating is done by electrolysis method. If the ornament is in brass, it is plated directly with gold and for silver ornament is to be plated in copper. Plating is done after the buffing of the ornament, which is then cleaned and polished with the help of dilute sulphuric acid. Soldering is required wherever there is a joint in the ornament.

Metal sheets generally of brass, silver, aluminium and wires of different gauge and dimension are required to make the basic shapes of the jewellery. Sheets are cut into different geometric shapes required for the ornament. Design is engraved on this metal sheet by a pointed chisel. Hammers and mallets are used for large depressions. Wires of different thickness in round or half round shape are prepared and then plaited, knitted or twisted according to the design. Thin wires are used for making chain and oval hook links. After shaping of the different pieces of the ornament, they are joined together by soldering. Then the ornament is filed and scrapped to remove edges, scratches, solder spots etc. by files and emery paper. The ornament is ready for polishing. This is done either by sand or alum salt, sulphuric acid etc.

The natural lac sticks are mixed with colours to prepare coloured lac sticks. The sticks are slowly heated on charcoal fire simultaneously beating with wooden spatula and routed after forming the required length of coil. It is cut from the main stick and all the ends are joined together to give round shape. It is further put on a circular wooden beam and slipped through various heights for different sizes. After removing it from the circular rot it is decorated with glass pieces and beads etc.

Chak is a hemispherical boss with raised work all over in floral patterns carved out in horizontal circles, incases in lines of dots and dashes, the centre made convex to form a star. An earring worm by Gujjar women round tinsels with a wire knit chain. The ring is put in the lobe while the tinsels are hung in the hair just above the ear by a hook to take the weight off the ear.

The jewellery in Arunachal Pradesh varies in different tribe. Ivory is among the more selected material from which choice jewellery items are made. A piece of ivory is peeled and cleaned. It is then, fixed to a wooden frame. After it is turned with a shaft and rounded with the help of sharp instrument and smoothened and lined to get its desired shape. The marked lines are then separated in layer to get the different designs of bangles. The ornaments made in the tribal area are indigenous and beautiful. Some ornaments are made with the blue-feathered wings of beetles. Bamboo bangles and ear-ornaments are decorated with the help of intricate burnt poker work designs. Beads are used for decorating the jewellery.

As gold is too soft, it is mixed with copper or silver or with copper and zinc to give it a little hardness. Jewellery is manufactured through a mould. A model in resin, boiled, and when thoroughly set and hardened, it is enclosed in a mixture of clay. The crucible containing the metal and it surges up and as the molten metal enters the resin model, it melts and takes on the form of the model. When hollow models have to be made, they are prepared in two halves and then joined. In lac jewellery, the lac is used in the form of sticks in two ways: one as raw material for turning out various articles, largely ornaments like bracelets, beads and little trinkets, the other is for colouring objects.For ornamentation repouse, chase, filigree and enamelling are done. Beads are blown into beautiful sizes and shapes.

The sheets of gold are prepared by melting the metal. The gold leaf is beaten to give a required shape, which is embossed with floral and geometrical bold motifs. The leaf is rounded in the required shape and filled with lac to give it the three dimensional effect.
Resources
Basic Material : Silver/ brass/ aluminium metal
Colouring Material : Sodium sulphate, alum salt, sulphuric acid.

Basic Material : Lac .
Decorative Material : Glass beads, metal beads.
Colouring Material : Colours, glue, varnish.

Basic Material : Gold, silver, semi-precious stones (emeralds, rubies, sapphires), meenakari, garnet, agate, amethyst, topaz, lapiz lazuli
Colouring Material : Enamel colour

Basic Material : Items from shell, lac, conch shell, iron or copper bangles, silver brass, base metal, floral jewellery.
Decorative Material : glass beads, black beads.

Basic Material : Silver, brass, gold, khar or navsagar, coal, wax, kerosene lamp

Basic Material : Silver / brass / aluminium metal , wooden moulds, hammers, mallets, chisel, scrapper, scriber, wire scissors, iron & bronze dye colonial beads, coral pearls, silk threads, beads, polish

Basic Material : Lac colours, glass beads, metal beads, glue, varnish, tin foil, wooden spatula

Basic Material : Metal sheets, silver, gold, hammer etc.

Basic Material : Blue feathered wings, ivory, cane & bamboo, goats hair, glass beads, silver

Basic Material : Silver, lac, gold, beads

Basic Material : Gold, silver, precious stones, (rubies, pearls)
Equipments
Wooden moulds, hammers, mallets, chisel, scrapper

Wooden spatula, circular wooden beam

















Artifacts
Bangles, necklaces, rings, earstuds, ear-rings

Lac ornaments like bangles, ear rings

Necklaces, pendants, ear studs, ear-rings, bangles, bracelets, cuff-links, key rings, small wine cups, hair adornments.

Pariharya (Bracelets), pendants, hara (necklace), upura (anklet), kankana (wristlet), kundala (ear rings).

earrings, bangles, bracelets, payals, necklaces, nose-rings etc.

Necklaces, earrings, hair strings, bangles

Bangles, ear-rings, necklaces etc.

flower vases, vessels, candle stands, earrings, jhumkas etc.

Ornaments made with the blue feathered wings of beetles, bamboo bangles and ear-rings, armlets with ivory, cane or cane and goats hair, glass beads ear ornaments, silver fillet, necklace with lockets, silver earring

necklace, earring, hasli, bajuband

bangles, armlets, bracelets, hair ornaments, earrings, waist bands, necklaces, chains, pendants, vessels such as cups, plates, dishes, tumblers, attardanis etc.

Indian Crafts : History of Jewellery