Top Three Indian HandCrafted Jewelry: Thewa, Filigree and BeadWork Jewelry

Handcrafted Jewelry is those masterpieces where each and every art piece explores the glimpses of diligence of craftsman and designers who have magically created each and every masterpiece with heavy perfection and skill.

Here is the list of Three Handcrafted Jewelry Style which probably a unique style in their own:

Thewa Jewelry:

Thewa jewelry is one of those pieces of jewelry which are originally invented in India. Today they have a big export market all over the world.

‘Thewa’ generally means ‘Setting’. This originally defines as a fusion of gold with colored glass to create elegant masterpieces. The jewelry is made on a molten sheet of 23-carat pure gold with which process is embedded with colored glass and this process gives splendid and dazzling effect on jewelry pieces. These jewelry need a heavy craftsmanship and great hard work. A clear conscious mind and time are needed to make every single piece.

Photo Credit: Thewa Jewelry, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Recognition of Art:

Indian Government for promoting this jewelry style also launched this postage stamp of Thewa jewelry. It is also gifted to Prince Charles on his marriage ceremony by Government of India.

Historical review:

Thewa jewelry is originally invented 400 years ago in Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan India under the patronage of Maharaja Shri Samat Singh (king of Pratapgarh Rajasthan India around 1900). This art style is chiefly invented and is credited to Nathji Soni and his family. They are called Raj-Soni and their family members also got national and International recognition for this art style. It is a fact that from generation, their family kept the process of making this secret from the world and passes the process of making only to father to son. As a result, the origin of this art remains secret for a long time.

Process Involved in Making:

The process of making these pieces of jewelry is tedious. Various steps are involved in making this that are as follows:

  1. Firstly, the fragment of terracotta is smashed and combined together with some chemical and oil to make a dense paste.
  2. Secondly, this piece is then spread on the timber board after that 23 cut piece of gold sheet is set with this paste on board. The gold-sheet has special motifs and designs carved on it. Then it is painted with a dark color so that designs would be visible easily. Then colored glass such as precious emerald, sapphires, and ruby are put which act as a base for gold.
  3. Finally, gold and silver foil is mounted separately, after that a heavy royal jewelry pieces emerged and came in our hand.

Design Patterns:

The motifs of Thewa jewelry generally include stories of Hindu mythology, fork dances, and portraits of Lord Krishna, the depiction of nature, rich heritage of Rajasthan, royal class, and patronage of prince Kingdoms.

The different types of market products of this art are not only jewelry but also chandeliers, lamps shades, vases, flasks, decorative items, statues, wall hangings and much more. This art has a rich uniqueness which makes it a heavy and inevitable part of Indian art.

Filigree work:

Photo Credit: Thewa Jewelry, Housing Works Thrift, via flickr.com

Filigree items are made of small strands by curling, twisting, plating and turning at contact points. And then all are soldered together on the same base metal in different patterns and motifs by the help of blowpipe and then different threads and beads, pearls of same metal are often set in various motifs to give them splendid texture and royal and glossy charm.

It is basically the lace craft work done on precious stones and metal rather than cloth. A thin silver or gold strand used for making lace designs on metals to give an enrapturing look to the jewelry or art piece.

Almost around ninety types of silver wires designs of spirals, creepers, and jails, uses for making various craft pieces. This is also known as lacework or ‘Tarkashi’ work in India. Filigree work in India is aesthetic.

Indian Filigree Work:

Photo Credit: Silver Filigree Work, By Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0

Filigree work is believed to be originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt and came to Asia around 2500 B.C…Indian and Greek patterns, styles and process are very much similar. Today more than hundred families in different villages of Orissa practice this craft. Cuttack is the base village of this craftsmanship. Locally, this style is called ‘Cuttak Tarkashi’. The silver filigree of Orissa got recognition on a national and International level. India is actually famous for silver filigree work among various filigree style jewelry pattern.

In India, this filigree work is mainly done on silver and artisans working on this do this work with great consciousness and patience providing great effort. It is hardworking and time taking craftwork.

It is mainly done on states like Orissa, Andra Pradesh, West Bengal. Karimnagar in Orissa is known as ‘Filigree Craft Village’.

The process of Making:

This process includes melting of ductile and malleable metals of silver and gold and making small strands of metal threads from that. These designs are first drafted on paper. These themes include sculptures of god and goddess, flora and fauna, temples and statues. Then the wires are carefully put on design sheets to produce outline frame and then other small wire strands which include almost ninety types of motifs of wires which includes creepers, jails, spirals, and curls are used to fill outline and make beautiful and delicate designs.

Market Products:

This craft is not only used for jewelry but idols of gold, animals, and walls of many temples also decorated by this art.

Items like new-born baby spoons, Vermillion, containers, nut boxes, and flora and fauna sculptures are made of filigree style. It is also done on pendants, brooches, earing showpieces, flowerpots and hairpins, purses, vases etc.

The famous symbol of filigree artwork is shown in Konark Wheel which exhibits numerous silver filigree designs and motifs created on it.

Beadwork Jewelry:

Beadwork is the craft of attaching different types and different color of beads by stringing thread with a needle to make artistically designed jewelry. Beads come in a variety of colors, shapes, size and used for making different sculptures, wall hangings, and jewelry.

Overview of Beads:

Beads are also worshipped and used for religious purposes. The famous ‘Jappa Mala’ or ‘Rudraksha mala’ is made by using Rudraksha bead which has very high importance in religious values as called the part of Lord Shiva (Hindu God). It is also used in Talismans, for barter which is used as good luck charm and in many religious artworks.

Beads of Varanasi (Situated in Uttar Pradesh, India) exported in huge amount in the whole world. Glass beads which popular today are not found until 1700 and were found only in Saurashtra kingdom (Modern Southern Gujarat) of India.

It is used in many market products such as jewelry, handbags, coasters, mats, India dress like lehengas, sarees and bridal wears.

The beadwork in India dates back to Indus valley civilization which is around 500 years ago. People in that time made beads out of silver, gold, clay, ivory, and woods. India is one of the largest producers of beads.

Types of Beads:

Gujarat is the potential producer of bead and also famous for its bead artwork. The craftsman is popular in stitching the different types of beads on clothes in different styles and patterns. Artisans here make different types of product like bags, purse, clutches, lehengas, dupatta, and sarees etc. This work needs a great hard work and heavy perception. These beads are attached so strongly and closely that there is no need for any kind of textile as a base.

  1. Kashmiri beads:

Kashmiri beads are made from resin. They are natural lac resin and a mixture of marble. These beads have holes in the metal frame and use a single colored base and are durable and stiff. They are used for making mirror clips, seed beads with silver plating.

  1. Lac beads:

Lac beads are majorly produced in India. These came from a secretion of small insects living in trees and then this material is washed, powdered and heated properly and shaped and colored to give the beads a proper shape and finish. These beads are used in Lampshades, stone and wooden materials. These used in bridal wears, sarees, lehengas and give a gaudy and shiny look.

  1. Rudraksha Beads:

Rudraksha beads generally grow on a tree named ‘Eliocarpus Ganitres’ tree. These beads are considered as divine and have very high and great religious significance. They are known as a ‘part of Lord Shiva’ and worshipped in Hindu traditions. They are used for making Jap Malas. These beads are of different types some are fire faced beads while some are single faced. Traditionally, 109 beads are stitched in one Japa mala also called Lord Shiv Rudraksha mala.

  1. Meenakari Beads:

Meenakari beads are made by Meena (bead). The Meenakari artisans carve captivating designs on the surface of a plane gold bead with metal wire and then decorate it with colors. The beads are then heated in a furnace for providing perfect fusion of colors with base metal and then washed with tamarind to highlight different colors and exhibit glossy finish and then embellish designs on the surface of beads.

  1. Tribal beads:

They are generally made of natural material such as wood, iron, ivory, bones and mixed with precious gemstones. These beads are used in making intricate masterpieces. This art is declining in popularity in the last few years but still used on different occasions.

With the great effort of artisans and government and various NGOs, slowly this art is gaining popularity. Women love to adorn Bead and filigree jewelry pieces or pendants which definitely give them a spellbinding look in ethnic style. 

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