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Art in everyday life: Indian Jewellery

Art has various forms, some which are so frequently present in our day-to-day life, we fail to acknowledge them as individual pieces of art. One such instance would be jewellery, and specifically Indian jewellery.

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The little trinkets and large statement pieces, used as accessories, are always credited to the wearer’s good taste. However, do we stop to think this is a form of art. An artist in India created their idea, and here it is thousands of miles away receiving the admiration of strangers. My relationship with jewellery is one of love, nostalgia, and pride in my culture. Part of growing up Indian includes getting ear piercings and sometimes nose piercings at a young age. I would sneak into my mom’s closet and try on her jewelry pretending that I was a bride, and thus began my fascination with jewellery, which has been a part of my life ever since. The curves, the intricate designs, the colours of the stones—it is enticing and complex.

Indian women not only buy jewellery as accessories, they also keep them safely as their means of independence, for safety and security. It not only holds sentimental value, they are also used in times of economic hardship. Priceless jewellery is inherited from mother to daughter through generations, and it can hold the memories of their maternal home. Jewellery is also used to indicate whether women are married in more ways than the usual engagement ring. For example, some Indian states use toe rings called bichiya, while quite a few use a specific type of necklace called the mangalsutra, which can have black beads to ward off evil. Modern jewellery includes pieces often made from non-valuable materials, but the craftsmanship and the imitation of gold and silver make these affordable alternatives.

Tanmayya's Earrings

Personally, jewellery has been a way to express myself, and wearing Indian jewellery in my day-to-day life in Vancouver has made me feel more connected to my roots. It always garners a conversation at the café or a compliment from a stranger. In fact, chances are you will rarely catch me without my signature Indian earrings dangling beautifully, which have an umbrella-like shape called jhumke.

Next time you’re on the lookout for some unique jewellery pieces, add some items from Indian retail stores who have an array of jewellery in any colour you could possibly imagine!

By Tanmayya Saraf


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