A sudden wave of inspiration forced me to visit a centre for performing arts- I suddenly wanted to be a Bharatanatyam dancer. However, my spirits got a reality check as I gaped at little girls practicing intently, some of whose palms were reddened with big red dots. They must have been at it for years! Their dainty feet could barely keep up to the intense beating of the instrument, but the glint in their eyes stole my heart. And so did the beautiful ornaments they amazingly carried around with them!
One must associate the origin of these beauties with primeval artistry, passed down from mother to daughter, to be preserved forever as masterpieces. The jewelry was originally designed for gods and goddesses at the temples, hence, the name. The Devadasis adorned them when they danced in those temples. Be it the bride-to-be dressed in gold from head to toe, or the petite girl trying out her mother’s ornaments; temple jewelry is as enchanting as it may come. Through the narrowest lanes and crannies of Nagercoil, Kanyakumari, one may encounter a hoard of yellow metal; amidst rows of cramped houses and exotic doors lie skilled artisans crafting temple jewelry that is bold and unique.
Traditional temple jewelry was fashioned out of silver, finished with gold and copper leaves. No wonder one may find a dazzling peacock, a swan gracefully sporting stones or even a bejeweled snake with a pendant as a hood. Gems and stones playing a vital role in its creation, the type of jewelry is a favourite among Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancers.
These creations often adorn the wrists, arms, feet and hair of dazzling dancers. It is almost unbelievable that there is a piece of jewelry for almost every part of the body that the dance can possibly move! For instance, a ‘raakodi’, a hair ornament, is a favourite and essential temple ornament. It is typically worn by dancers and brides around the hair. The jewelry also depicts a strong relationship with mythological and religious references. The ‘Chandrasuyan’, worn on either side of the head symbolizes the sun and the moon, as the head is a representation of heaven. Then comes the three- piece ear ornament, consisting of the ‘maatal’- a chain, jhumkis- hanging earrings, and the thodu, an ornament on the earlobe.
The jewelry comes with bold and bright motifs, unlike any other type of jewelry I have ever come across. Numerous precious stones, from jade to rubies and even coloured glass stones are famously used for its creation. Also, with the demand for traditional Indian jewelry soaring high, the frames are often crafted with gold and then further embellished with various stones.
Discover Tjori’s magnificent Temple Jewelry collection here.