To New Beginnings, with Handcrafted Magnificence
The exquisiteness, femininity and charm of Kerala’s women are immensely celebrated. They say the beauty of a Malayali woman is in her big black eyes! The long wavy hair, thick eyelashes and natural elegance sets her apart from the fairer counterparts around the nation. Artists like Raja Ravi Varma have stunningly captured the beauty of a Malayali manga (woman) in his paintings. One may attribute the credit for that luscious hair to the use of coconut oil or the traditional kohl for those sharp looks, but what has consistently contributed to her charisma are the fine pieces of jewellery she chooses to adorn for different occasions. From simple jhumkas to heavy necklaces, jewellery has always known to bring the sparkle in a Malayali woman. She wears her true etherealness when her looks are beautifully complemented with the glitter of Kerala’s traditional antique jewellery as she drapes herself in the golden zari of Kerala saree. It’s a long tale of love with the golden metal.
The God’s own country is also | 47 referred to as ‘gold’s own country’ purely due to Malayali’s inordinate loyalty to gold as the best investment option. While this would be the pull factor to gold for men of the land, women in Kerala carry gold jewellery as a token of pride. There was a time when the jewellery worn by a woman reflected her social status. Only the upper class sections of the society were allowed to wear gold and other precious jewellery. Kerala history has been witness to revolts like ‘Kallumala samaram’ when Pulaya community (a marginalized section of the society) members fought for their rights to wear jewellery. The Nair households love to boast of the possessions inherited from their ancestors, especially the heirloom antique gold ornaments inherited from the great grandmothers over generations.
Even today, every bride of Kerala loves to have at least one piece of the traditional temple jewellery or antique jewellery in her amaadapetti (jewel box). These fine pieces of artwork and divinity woven together are set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls truly showcasing the flamboyant craftsmanship of Kerala’s goldsmiths. Naturally, every Chingamaasam ( a month in Malayalam calendar, which usually begins in mid August) which marks the wedding season in Kerala, jewellery groups try their best to woo the brides-to-be with the most authentic designs from Kerala’s traditional jewellery collections.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST LAUDED GOLDEN TREASURES OF KERALA
One of the oldest pieces of jewellery in Kerala’s jewellery culture, the beauty of Naagapada thaali takes one back to timeless heritage. Also known as snake-hood necklace, it is made with green glass stimulating emeralds which are intricately cut into the shape of the snake’s hood.
A treat for your eyes, mullamottu maala resembles a string of jasmine buds and hence derived the name (mullamottu means jasmine bud and maala, a necklace). Found in necklace and long chain designs.
A classic piece in the antique collection, the ornament has become a staple in the Hindu bridal jewellery.
A simple piece of jewellery that most women in Kerala prefer to wear with light weight silk sarees irrespective of the occasion, it has an antique pendant attached to a simple chain. The pendant is mostly designed in the shape of a moon and is seen in different designs called Minni, Shakunthala, Menaka etc.
A bangle that ritualistically represents wealth and prosperity with the images of eight manifestations of goddess Lakshmi set in beautiful patterns, it is known to bring good luck charm for the woman wearing it. The eight incarnations of the goddess presides over different sources of wealth and therefore the bangle is a much sought after piece in the wedding collections of a Hindu bride.
An ornament that displays the timeless tradition with a vintage finish, sarapoli maala is yet another jewel found in the heritage jewellery collections of the Nair families that is passed on to generations as wedding gift by the grandmothers. Gold strands are studded with grain-like motifs to make this exquisite piece of jewellery.
These bell-shaped earrings have become more like an epitome of Kerala’s jewellery culture.