Ring Ornaments

 

 

Ears

Gandharva sculpture, that existed as early as the 3rd and 4th century A.D., is characterized by the presence of ear ornaments. The Buddhists were said to have favored massive earrings.

The forms and size of ear ornaments vary enormously. They can be decorated in an immense number of ways including embellishments with enamel, stones or pearls. Almost any type can have additional small decorative chains and hanging miniature pendants often in the shapes of small leaf, balls or bells. Some earrings are so heavy they must be supported by a cord or chain that passes over the ear or is hooked to the hair. Other types of unsupported ear ornaments are worn from a hole in the lobe, which as a result is permanently stretched to an unimaginable degree.

The large disc plug of Gujarati women and the various kinds of heavy earrings worn by the women of Tamil Nadu are examples of these. Women of some regions have ears pierced with holes of a diameter that almost amounts to mutilation and then wear enormous pendant earrings made of gold.

 

Fingers

Rings for the hands have been found at practically all levels of Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjodaro excavations have brought forth copper rings with several coils but no gold and very few silver rings have been discovered.

Rings, over the ages, have been worn on all the fingers including the thumb. They fulfilled the triple function - decorative, talismanic and signatory. The innumerable forms of metal rings can broadly be divided into those with and without bezel (the part of the ring meant to hold a decorative decree, stone or seal). While rings set with personal seals are less common today, the rings set with stones are ubiquitous.

The particular stone may be chosen for reasons other than mere appearance. According to Hindu astrology, each of the nine planets in the Universe is represented by a specific stone. By wearing the stone associated with one's planetary sign, it is believed that the effect can be enhanced or mitigated according to the nature of the planet. A very popular arrangement of stones called Navaratna (nine gems) is used in rings and other ornaments.

In a special category is the larger thumb-ring or arsi with a circular mirror. Other thumb-rings, unequivocally courtly pieces in shape and material were worn from the late 16th to the mid 18th century during the reign of Shah Jahan. They were considered the finest examples of Mughal Jeweled gold. Yet another type, now obsolete, is the Archer's ring of jade or gold, at times set with gems and embellished with enamel. Its Central Asian origin accounts for its popularity among high ranking men during the Mughal period. To the Romans, the ring was the most important item of jewelry. They were the first to use it as a sign of betrothal.

Today the rings have only fashion value. The traditional significance seems to have diminished.

For the nose, single stone studs rate high, or the traditional design with a few diamonds. Lops are on the decrease, unless they are family heirlooms used for weddings and other ceremonies. For the feet, due to more women wearing closed shoes, the toe ring in most cases is not worn except by the more orthodox and conventional women.


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