Ring Ornaments

 

No other nation in the world can surpass the 5000-year-old record of India with its unbroken history of the custom of wearing jewelry. The women of this land are unique in that even today, for various reasons the use of ornaments continues with undiminished vivacity. Of these, the ring in its various forms, adorns the nose, ears, fingers and toes. Amulets worn as charm against evil also come in the form of rings. Usually at the child's naming ceremony performed on the 12th day after its birth, a small ring or stud is inserted into the ear lobe or nose as a protective amulet. Nose

The widespread use of nose ornaments in India today has created a misconception that wearing of these is an ancient Hindu custom based on religious sanctions. Looking back at the historical remains of the ancient Indian civilization, one doesn't find any nose rings on the stone and clay sculpture of Indus Valley Civilization, or sculptures at Ajanta, Ellora and Badami. Neither is any evidence of the use of nose rings found from the plaques, seals or coins excavated from Mohenjodaro, Harappa or from the sites where the Kushan and Gupta dynasties existed.

Similarly, the bronzes of the Apsaras of the 9th century or the 11th /12th century Uma of the Pala period and Parvati show an absence of this ornament of the nose. Evidence of nose rings and studs appear only in the 15th and 16th centuries.

 

The most common type of the nose ornament is not a ring, but an ornament in the form of a stud known as phul. This is worn through a hole in the left nostril and secured by a screw fitting on the inner side. Its size varies from a small gold ball or diamond to a flat disc with a highly ornamental surface. Additionally, the stud may have small attachments like a fringe of hanging chains or small pendants.

Large nose rings are also worn. They may be plain silver or gold hoops or extravagantly ornamented with enamel, pearls and precious stones. Heavy nose rings are usually supported by cords of fine chains hooked to the hair or head covering to hold the ornament flat against the cheek, otherwise their weight would distort the nose. The bulak from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, worn by the local Dogra women is one of the largest loop nose-rings worn in the country. It is decorated with granulation and set with stones, covering a large portion of the cheek and mouth.

The third basic type of nose ornament, usually of gold, is pendant hung from a hole in the central septum. Single rings are most commonly worn but some pendants may be so large and complex that they hang over the mouth and must be lifted up when eating. For a person not familiar with the culture of this land, nose ornaments may probably seem the strangest of all the Indian jewellery.


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