Updated: Jan 24
Tamilakam, the land of exquisite temples, craft and a deep rooted, vibrant culture. Just by exploring through the traditional jewellery designs of Tamil Nadu, we were astounded with the depth and grandeur of the land’s culture and craft.
Traditional jewellery of Tamilnadu consists of designs like manga malai, attigai, kaasu malai, temple necklaces, kemp necklaces, nakashi necklaces, long haram, vetrilai kovai, jadanagam, suriapirai chandrapirai, chandra haram, gowri sangam and many more.
The land of the Tamils, rich in culture and tradition where the essence of dance and music of Bharatanatyam floats in air, the beauty of kanjeevaram sarees, and temple jewellery is a source of pride, scent of jasmines with the aroma of sambar and the warm smiles on faces make Tamil Nadu the land it is!
Significance of Jewellery In Tamilnadu
Being a land rich in traditions, lore, and rituals, Tamil people celebrate their lives flamboyantly through their arts, crafts and food. Be it their beliefs or their jewellery, they go all out. Though the people of the land have seen kingdoms rise and fall through generations, they never lost their warmth and 'kalacharam' (culture). Jewellery is just another way of imbuing the deep beliefs, customs and skills on to their daily lives to make it better. Tamilians always stood out with their temple craft, silk weaves and eclectic art forms like Bharatanatyam.
The mighty Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas imprinted on the land of Tamilnadu with their sculptures, monuments and glory. The motherland in turn blessed them with abundance. What we see in temples, monuments, customs, art forms and traditional jewellery designs of Tamilnadu is the reminiscence of the time of heavenly glory. The jewellery of Tamilnadu is believed to be the oldest jewellery found in ancient India.
Types of Traditional Jewellery Of Tamil Nadu
Traditional jewellery of Tamil Nadu are divided majorly into these categories other than the ancient ritualistic and religious jewellery. The usual division of jewellery based on where it is worn can also be considered.
Temple jewellery designs are one of the oldest jewellery making methods in the country. At first the jewels were only used to adorn the deities of the temples. Later on, Bharatanatyam dancers started using the jewellery paving its way to common folks.
Temple jewellery is usually made in gold and with stone settings all over symbolising sun, moon, nagas and much more. White, red, and green stones were commonly seen on these jewellery designs.
The temples of Tamilnadu are famous not only for their divinity but also for their architecture. Nakshi or Nakashi jewellery adopted its style from temple architecture of Tamilnadu, giving it the name modern temple jewellery. Though it is not the original temple jewellery, the nakshi work also has its ages of glory to tell. Know more about repousse work on Nakashi jewellery here.
The bridal jewellery designs of a Chettiar bride are classy and majestic. The Chettinad jewellery designs mainly used Burmese(present day Myanmar) rubies. The jewellery is also termed as Kemp jewellery. The cabochon rubies were inlaid on heavy gold settings. Most of the Chettinad jewellery designs are passed down from mothers to daughters as heirlooms making them precious and irreplaceable.
Some Of the traditional jewellery designs of Tamil Nadu are listed down below.
1. Manga malai,
2. Kaasu malai
3. Lakshmi Malai
4. Mulla mottu malai
5. Vilakumooku malai
6. Makara Kanti Haram
8. Kilikasu malai
10. Godumai vidai malai
11. Malligai Arumbu malai
13. Thali or Thirumangalyam
14. Pirandai kattai
15. Erattai vadam malai
16. Kodi malai
19 Milagu mani malai
20. Kazhuthiru - (Chettiar bride)
28. Kempu kal Mothiram
31. Pachakal valai
33. Lakshmi valai
37. Kempu kal valai
38. Surya pirai & chandra pirai - These hair accessories are seen adorned mainly by Tamil brahmin brides of Iyers and Iyyengaars. These are also a part of Bharathnatyam costume jewellery.
39. Nethi chutti - The mangtika studded with red and white stones. Used widely in weddings and classical dance performances like Bharathnatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam etc.
40. Rakkodi - Rakkodi is the round shaped hair accessory studded with kemp and white stones to hold a hair bun.
41. Nethi pattai (Gounder bride) - A ritualistic jewellery worn on forehead during the wedding ceremony of a Gounder bride.
42. Jadanagam - 'Jadai' means hair 'nagam' means snake. Jadanagam is the snake like long jewellery clipped on to the long braided hair of a Tamil bride. The jadanagam is usually followed by kunjalam at the tail end of the braid.
50. Bullakku - Bullakku is usually embellished with red or white stones. It is a nose accessory that resembles a septum ring. This jewel accessory is widely used in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance performances.
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Media Credits : Krishna Jewellers, Kalyan Jewellers, Bhima, Malabar gold, Pinterest, Vaadamalar, Kushals, Instagram, Jewels of India