If you could go back in time, one of the things that would be worth seeing is the jewelry boxes for women of the Indian royal families. India’s history with jewel making is one of the oldest and dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. At those times, gold earrings, necklaces as well as bracelets were already made.
One of the most important eras of the jewelry making history of this country was that of the Mughal empire. Believed to possess divine powers, the Maharaja was central to the functioning of the state. Therefore, only he was believed worthy of wearing a lot of jewelry.
The Navratna (meaning nine gems) was one of the most popular jewelry forms worn by the Maharaja. This was an amulet made of nine precious stones. These nine gems are diamond, pearl, ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, cat’s eye, coral, and red zircon.
The diamond, the most powerful of stones is cut in many number of ways. Mughal Emperors gave a great deal of importance to diamonds. They believed it to be a road to immortality and even had their names and titles and carved.
These stones were used in the creation of rings, necklaces, amulets as well as to adorn turbans. European styles inspired from the Renaissance period were how the kings’ rings were made. Thumb rings had a common pattern of a scrolling leaf on the inside.
This was a time when turban jewelry made a debut. The jewelry of Emperor Akbar was a mix of Iranian as well as European cultures. Kalghi or turban plumes made of gold threads and seen in Safavid paintings were created at that time.
The king wore necklaces that were made only of pearls, sometimes mixed with gemstones and gold and sometimes of all elements. When Jahangir came to power, using a heavy stone of pearl or ruby along with the plume came into fashion. The emperors of those times even had gold slippers to wear.
Medieval accounts tell of kings from Tanjore who wore minimal clothing that was completely covered with jewels. The King of Maabar in fact, wore just a loin cloth that had a lining of emeralds, rubies as well as sapphires. He even had a necklace created out of 104 pearls and which came all the way to his waist.
Many styles have come about thanks to the attention given to jewelry among Indian royalty. The Mughals brought about the Meenakari and Kundan styles. Royalty from the Nagas had jewelry designs that included human heads and funnel-like beads.
The trousseau of women in Indian royalty had jewelry as an important component. Women came to their husband’s palaces with jewelry boxes for women made of marble, lacquer, onyx etc, filled with their jewelry. Hand carvings, precious stones etc were used to enhance these jewelry boxes even further.
Jewelry is still central to Indian cultures. It is essential to every auspicious occasion.
This article was written by Ruth D’Souza Prabhu of MarqART Gift Shop. Our jewelry boxes are original works of art, no two creations are the same. Each wood shown has its own unique wood grain pattern and color. MarqART comes from combining the words marquetry (wood inlay) + Art (a creation of beauty) an apt name for our products. A fine addition to your dressing table or as a gift. Please visit http://www.marqartgiftshop.com to browse & buy exotic jewelry boxes that will give you a lifetime of pleasure!
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