How Culture and Jewellery are Inseparably
Culture is a product of the people that live in a society and every society, ever since civilisation began, has some kind of a connection with jewellery and adorning figures. From the Harappan civilisation to the huge jewellery industry today, culture and jewellery have shared a deep relationship and oftentimes the history of one cannot be complete without mention of the other.
Jewellery has been favoured eternally because it enhances beauty, embellishes the otherwise plain look, and is aesthetically valuable. Apart from this, it often functioned as a marker of social status and symbolised power and wealth. Over history, jewellery was restricted to the elite and thus became a sign of royalty. Indian culture especially reveres jewellery and gives it symbolic meaning.
Apart from the obvious role as a sign of prosperity, it is of immense importance in various rituals such as weddings. Different kinds of jewellery symbolise various changes in life and brides are expected to wear certain specific pieces of jewellery. It also acted as a form of financial security in times of crises in women’s lives, since they were not permitted to hoard wealth of their own.
Jewellery also shares a bond with religion, and is associated with the Goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi. Wearing jewellery signifies asking God for protection and is seen as a way of seeking blessings. Gold jewellery had an important role to play in temples in southern India and for a long time temple jewellery was restricted only to the idols of various deities. Gold jewellery was perhaps the most precious amongst the metals, due to its flawless shine, durability and the belief that it purifies everything that it touches. Second in line was silver jewellery, which was associated with the moon and was meant to symbolise femininity and motherhood.
Diamond jewellery designs are considered the most sophisticated and elegant and are commonly used for weddings and engagements. They signify eternal love and thus are used for creating bonds. Similarly, platinum, copper and other gemstones are appreciated for different qualities. Gemstones also have an ongoing connection with astrology and the concept of birthstones. These meanings are given to jewellery by culture itself, which gives it the power it wields. Similarly, culture is also shaped by jewellery. As different periods in history were dominated by different groups, their signature techniques of jewellery making seeped into the culture of India and seamlessly blended into its tradition. From the aforementioned temple jewellery of the south, to the emergence of the Jadau, Kundan and Meenakari techniques of jewellery making during the Mughal area, and ending with the colonial style, sleek jewellery making under British rule, Indian jewellery has elements of all the cultures. It is this intricate relationship with its culture, and not just the shine, that makes jewellery so special.