Updated: May 7
The lush green landscapes of Kerala enamour every soul with a penchant for nature. The breathtaking backwaters, greenery, rich culture, progressive and secular society, delectable cuisine and their love for gold makes Kerala the God’s own country indeed. Gold jewellery has always been a part of Kerala traditions. Be it festivals like Onam, Vishu or Weddings, gold ornaments of Kerala can be seen worn by women in almost every house-hold.
A variety of evergreen jewels are found in the treasure trove of Kerala traditional jewellery designs. We can take a quick look at the top Kerala traditional jewellery names and designs below.
Traditional Ornaments of Kerala
Kerala Traditional Jewellery Names
1. Pichimottu Mala
2. Palakka Mala
3. Mulla mottu Mala
4. Manga Mala
7. Nagapadam mala
8. Kasu Mala
9. Pulinakha Mala
10. Karimani Mala
11. Sarapoli Mala
12. Poothali Mala
15. Kuzhalmothiram Mala
16. Mani Mala
18. Avil Mala
19. Kashali Mala
20. Gothambumani Mala
22. Mukkolakkallu Mala
23. Kingini Mala
24. Moonizhamani Mala
25. Kumbil Mala
26. Thalikoottam or Cheruthali
27. Lakshmi Mala
Pichi, a variant of Jasmine, is a popular plant found in Kerala. The design of Pichimottu mala is acquired from the buds of the Pichi plant. The gold necklace is made by laying the lockets in an array. Pichi mottu necklace is a popular traditional jewellery in Kerala
The most desired traditional jewellery design in Kerala is Palakka mala. Originally they were only made in green colour to represent the green nature of the state. With the advent of modern fashion, the design was caressed in multiple hues resulting in violet, red, blue, pink and more. Palakka comes in the form of chokers, palakka long harams, pendants, bangles, and earrings. A palakka design is traditionally made in leaf shape and is rendered in glass or crystals. They come in the shape of manga(mango), pulinakham (tiger-claw), fusions and much more.
Traditionally, the elaborate inlays of Palakka are set in heavy gold, imparting elegance to the jewellery. To make it more affordable, palakka designs are made available in other metals and alloys as well. Checkout some of the imitation or gold plated palakka mala on Amazon.
Mulla mottu mala
Importance of jasmine flowers in South Indian states is unparalleled. Every celebration and customary function includes jasmine. Mulla mottu mala means garland of jasmine buds. The necklace is much favoured by Kerala brides. Pure gold mullamottu necklace is usually an heirloom that every girl gets from her grandmother, in an 'amadapetti'. Imbued with the essence of rich culture every generation celebrates life in the Malayali way. In Karnataka, the necklace is called mallimoggu sara.
Jewellery stores like Malabar gold, Joy alukkas, Navrathan, Kalyan Jewellers have a wide collection of mullamottu mala in gold. Gold plated mullamottu mala versions are available on Amazon as well.
Manga Mala is also a part of traditional bridal trousseau in Kerala. The beads or lockets are shaped like mangoes and are arranged in a beautiful setting to form a manga mala.
As the name depicts elakkathali is a collar necklace that flutters with movement. Numerous tiny thin leaflets hanging from the necklace reflect the light in a mesmerising way creating the illusion of sparkle. The necklace is worn as an adornment while performing Mohiniyattam - the classical dance of Kerala.
Elakkathali is available as 22 carat gold and gold plated necklaces, keeping the choices open for people. Amazon has a good collection of gold plated elakkathali if you prefer to try one. Whereas for pure gold elakkathali one can always visit online jewellers like Kalyan, Jos Alukkas and more.
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It's a simple choker necklace inspired from leaves. The gold leaf trinkets are arrayed dangling to form the elegant Kazhuthila. These neckpieces are not as popular as a palakka or Kasu mala but they indeed bring out the beauty of a Kerala woman.
The symbol of prosperity and power, every Kasu mala was a secret pride of Nair and Namboothiri women in Kerala. Passed down through generations, kasu mala holds a prominent place in the trousseau of a Kerala bride. Justifying the name, the necklace is made of coins. Kasu mala evolved with the modern fashion trends and many new variants were made. Gold kasu mala, gold plated, silver Kasu mala, oxidised ones and more. In Karanataka the necklace is called kasinasara and in Andhra it is kasulaperu.
Keralites worshipped snakes as a part of their religious beliefs. Nagapadam mala represents the head of a snake. The inlay is similar to palakka mala and was traditionally set in gold. Nagapadam mala and nagapada thali are still among the most cherished Kerala traditional necklace designs. Nagapada thali or ottakal nagapadam mala is made out of single stone set in gold pendant and a sleek chain.
The tiger claw necklace or pulinakha mala is one among the dainty traditional ornaments of Kerala. The pulinakha pendants were worn by warriors during the earlier days. Later on, inspired from pulinakha pendants pulinagha mala chokers were made by the skilled jewel smiths of Kerala.
Black beads are stringed along with gold beads to make a beautiful karimani mala. These necklaces are seen to be worn by married women as a symbol of their marriage. Some even use these as thali chains.
That necklace you wanted from your mother’s or grandmother's jewel box when you were a kid. Yes! a sarapoli mala is simple yet attractive enough to grab even a kid’s eyes. The leaf-like motifs with a vertical fold in the centre are arranged in a choker or long chain setting to create a sarapoli mala. This timeless traditional jewellery design of Kerala is still adored by young brides.
Poothali mala is one of the popular traditional ornaments of Kerala. Floral designs are etched onto the necklace and hence the name ‘poo’ thali. Kattapoothali, thamara poothali are other variants of poothali mala that found their place in the trousseau of Kerala brides.
The kuzhiminni necklace design is inspired from flowers and the charms of this necklace has a depression on the centre. The beautiful chokers are always a happy presence in weddings, events and festivities.
Slim and sleek crescent moon shapes are made in gold and are arranged in a necklace setting with a centre-piece to create a chandraminni necklace. The necklace is one of the rare traditional jewellery designs in Kerala
The simple kuzhalmothiram mala is usually passed down through generations. The choker usually comes with a centrepiece stone inlay and side pieces. This beautiful necklace drapes around the neck accentuating the beauty of the person wearing them.
One of the common gold jewellery you can find in almost every household of Kerala. A manimala usually comes in single and multiple layers. The ball beads of gold are strung together to form a simple necklace. Many women use the necklace on a daily basis.
The half moon gold pieces stacked together and pink stones embedded on the necklace are quite alluring. The necklace indeed gives out authentic and royal south Indian vibes. Kandasaram necklace is hands down the regal necklace among Kerala traditional jewellery designs.
The nature of acquiring inspiration from surroundings begot many unique and elegant designs to be born in Kerala. Avil mala is such a supple design that was made by taking inspiration from rice flakes (avil), which is a common food in Kerala. The chain usually is of single or multiple layers.The necklace is called havalakki sara in karnataka
Kashali mala is a variant of kasu mala with Laksmi motifs on them. The difference between a kasu mala and kashali mala is that kashali coins won't overlap. The pieces of the necklace are made with rare mould and are not commonly found. The intricate work boasts of skill and effort. This traditional necklace is gaining much popularity now.
Inspired by wheat grains, gothambumani mala was born. The sleek and delicate design sharpens the features of the person wearing them. These chains are also preferred in single and multiple layers by Kerala women. For kannadiga brides of south Karnataka the necklace is godhisara
Pathakkam - The chain with a round pendant is a must have in a malayali brides’ jewellery treasure. A pathakkam necklace comes in simple gold studded with stones or in palakka setting. Pathakkam is one such piece of jewellery that can be worn alone and still grab plenty of eyeballs. The traditional pathakkam necklace is common in south Indian states. In Karnataka it is called Padaka.
Mukkolakkallu mala is one of the traditional jewellery worn by unmarried Namboothiri (Kerala brahmins) girls. Namboothiri women always wore simple and light weight jewellery favouring their satvik nature. Mukolakkallu mala is a simple and unique necklace to own.
Kingini mala necklaces were first used as hip chains for small kids. Later on, women started wearing them as necklaces as well. The design is used as a hip belt, anklet, choker, long necklace and bracelets by many women in Kerala. The original design also had a bigger round bead as the centre piece which disappeared over time.
Moonizhamani mala is one of the supple and gorgeous necklaces you can find in Kerala’s traditional jewellery treasure trove. Married Namboothiri women wore this three layer necklace with grace. The necklace come with a bodhi leaf pendant on the longest layer and usually has a ruby stone inlay.
In a kumbil mala the gold is designed into funnel shaped charms and stringed to form a necklace. The design was emulated from a leaf folded into a funnel shape to hold water. The charm of this necklace is unique and the design invites one to blend with nature and its ethereal beauty.
Thalikoottam or Cheruthali
Thalikoottam or cheruthali is one of the favourite traditional jewellery designs of Namboothiri women in Kerala. An Andarjanam in olden days can be seen wearing cheruthali for all festivities and functions. Now the necklace is one of the many treasures a Kerala bride would dream to own and cherish.
Lakshmi being the goddess of prosperity has always been an important part of jewellery in Kerala and the rest of India. A Lakshmi mala or Lakshmi sara is usually a type of Kasu mala with Lakshmi charms or a pathakkam with Lakshmi pendant. Wearing a Lakshmi mala is considered auspicious in Kerala
Traditional Kerala jewellery designs don't end with the above 27 ones. The vast collection includes much more rare and unique designs to be explored like mandara mala, pavithrakettu mala, pavithrakettu mothiram, palakkamothiram mala, soochi mulla mala, dashavatharam mala, dashavatharam bangle, gowrishankaram mala, Lakshmi bangle, vilwadala mala, veera srunghala bangle, thoda earrings, jimikki earrings, adiyal mala, thechimottu mala, shankhu mala, ilanjipoomala, erukkumpoo mala, dalaminni, kundala mala, lolakku, thadavala, ottakkal mala, karavala, mookuthi, nettichutti, odyanam, arapatta, mekkamothiram, kolusu, padasaram, kattarimbu, manomani mala, pookkulamala, malarthali, kattarimbu, vairaminni, panamala and many more.
What are the traditional jewellery of Kerala?
Traditional jewellery of Kerala bags many splendid designs. It can be considered as a jewellery enthusiast's heaven. Mullamottumala, pichimottu mala, palakkamala, nagapadam necklace, kasu mala, dalaminni, chandraminni, kuzhiminni, kuzhalmothiram, avil mala, gothambumani mala, moonizhamani mala, poothali, cheruthali, kazhuthila, kashali mala, ottakkal mala, sarapoli mala, elakkathali, alilathali, karimani mala, mukkolakkallu mala, mookuthi, kandasaram, pookkula mala, pulinakha mala, pavithrakettu mala, dashavatharam vala, dashavatharam mala, mandara mala, vilwadala mala, kumbil mala, mani mala, pathakkam and Lakshmi mala are just some of them.
What is Palakka mala?
Palakka mala has become the jewel identity of Kerala. The glass or gem stone inlay on gold setting renders the necklace an other worldly charm. Though they come traditionally green, palakka necklace can be seen in blue, red, violet, pink, orange, yellow and many other colours.
What is Karimani mala?
Black seed beads are strung together with gold into a long chain setting of one or two layers to form a Karimani mala. They are usually worn by married women in Kerala.
Which jewellery is famous in Kerala?
Gold jewellery is the most famous jewellery favoured in Kerala. Most of the traditional Kerala designs are set in gold.
What do Kerala brides wear?
Kerala brides wear a lot of gold ornaments in differed traditional designs along with a Kanchipuram silk saree or Kerala kasavu saree.
What is Elakkathali?
Elakkathali is a shimmering collar necklace with hanging leaflets that flutters with movement. The necklace is worn tightly around the neck.
What is Sarapoli mala?
A sarapoli mala is one of the Namboothiri jewellery designs that is simple and sleek. The design is usually made in gold. Leaf-like trinkets are with a vertical fold in the centre and the necklace drapes around the neck in a majestic way.
Where can we buy Kerala traditional jewellery?
Kerala is the most famous state in India when it comes to gold jewellery purchase. Buy beautiful traditional Kerala jewellery designs from, Krishna jewels, Kalyan jewels, Joy alukkas , Bhima jewels , Malabar gold, Navrathan jewels, for gold jewels either online or offline.
Imitation of traditional Kerala jewellery can be found online on amazon easily.
What is Nagapada thali?
The single serpent head shaped pendant hanging on a simple chain with a red or green glass or stone inlay is called nagapada thali or ottakkal nagapada mala
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Image sources: Kalyan jewels, Dream jewels, Krishna Jewels, chidambaram gold covering, kollam supreme, Pinterest, Jos alukkas, navrathan jewellers.