Tribal Jewelry From India

Tribal Jewelry is a very fascinating jewelry category found in India. There are thousands of tribes living in India for generations. Even today also there are hundreds of tribes present in India. It is believed that roots of each and every people are related to some tribes.

In some tribes, the traditions and cultures of the past, are still properly followed today but some have vanished with time and people adapt urbanization.

Some Tribal people are fully indigenous. They make their jewelry by themselves with easily available raw materials in surrounding such as shells, claws, jaws of animals, bones, ivory, wood etc. and with these raw materials, they make all type of jewelry needed like necklaces, bangles, rings, lip and toe rings, earrings.

These pieces of jewelry are adorned by men and women both. These tribal jewelry are very unique and of ethnic style and rarely found.

Tribal Jewelry Piece

Different tribes have the different style of jewelry, which symbolizes there tribe and makes it different from other.
It is believed that these jewelry are adorned by the country people from Harappan civilization. Some facts and jewelry pieces are also found in Mohenjo Daro or Indus valley civilization.

Even in ancient epics called Mahabharata and Ramayana has also mentioned about using this jewelry. In some tribes, these jewelry are worshipped while there are some places also where it is believed that these have mystical or supernatural powers.

But every tribe have some unique cultural differences and these differences are shown in their jewelry pattern also. Every tribe has their specialty whose glimpses are shown in their jewelry also and these jewelry styles are passes over a generation to generation.
Different tribes have difference in demographics, way of living, resources available, language, caste, customs, and food types and so discrete jewelry styles.

Types of Tribal Jewelry

Different Kinds of tribal jewelry found in India are as follows:

1. Madhya Pradesh Tribes – Tribes of Baster.

This tribe generally make jewelry from the natural bead, canes which are then mixed with copper, glass, silver peacock feathers or flowers. They use coins in their ornaments.

2. Rajasthani Banjara Tribes

Rajasthani Banjara Tribes

Photo Credit: Krishna Muralis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rajasthani Banjara tries are very famous tribes. Many movies are also made exhibiting their cultures and ornaments and dressing styles. These people are generally called nomads who cannot live or settle in one place. They move from one place to another. Accessories which they adorn are coins, shells, beads, metal wares, and silverware.

3. Meghalaya: Garo, Khasi, Jayantiya Tribes

Garo Tribes of Shillong

Photo Credit: Vishma Thapa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jayantiya and Khasi tribes generally wear red coral beads while Garo uses glass fluted stems to make jewelry. These tribes are originally situated in Meghalaya.

4. Sikkim – Bhutra Tribes:

These tribes use torque stones, rough stones, coral beads, copper, and many indigenous available materials to make their jewelry.

5. Agami Tribes – Nagaland

In these tribes, men use green ferns and foliage in their hair- knots and show love towards nature. Women use big necklace made of leaves, petals and flowers, bone materials. Bamboo dance of these tribes is also very famous.
6. Himachal tribes: Chamba, Kangra mali Tribes
They use metal anklets, iron headed bearing, big nose rings as their jewelry.

7. Chattisgarh – Hill Mariatri Tribes

This is a city of numerous tribes. They use finely drawn copper wires, brass, and iron, bone- woodcraft for making ornaments. The various jewelry pieces are filects, laces, anklets, earrings, and trinklets.
Today tribal jewelry has a niche position in jewelry industry they look simple stylish and elegant. They seem to be an auspicious art piece in any occasion and also popular not only among women but in youngsters. This jewelry class has vivid shapes, color, size and material and present in stylish range.

Ivory Jewelry

Ivory Jewelry

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, 2017 Photo Credit: Ivory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ivory is unique raw material extracted from animal body parts. It looks hard but Ivory is a soft substance, but not as soft as silver or gold. It is used for making only some types of jewelry and these animal tusks are handled with care to make pendants, bangles and other accessories.

The artisans cut these tusks in thick rings. Even craftsman draft various designs on tusks and embellish it with gold or silver paints and various gemstones to give these jewelry pieces a gaudy and ethnic look.
Ivory is generally tusk of elephants in both India and African but tusks of walruses, hippos, and narwhals also called ivory as well. Ivory is a tissue similar to bone caked dentine.

Traditional Significance of Ivory Jewelries:

Ivory jewelry was used from very pre-historic times. In India ivory is used for making jewelry date back to Vedic culture. India is a land of cultures and every culture has a unique style of jewelry and tradition and costumes.
In India, these ivory jewelry are also used in various bridal rituals and customs. Like, In Rajasthan, women wear these ivory bangles, from arm to wrist. In Gujarat, these bangles are gifted to new brides from their in-laws and in Sikh community, the bridal bangle set known as ‘Choodah’ which is a set of one ivory bangle with 21 red ones in sets is adorned by brides on their marriages.
These ivory jewelry give simple-cum-stylish look and they are cheap and affordable as well so these are in rage in college students and office goers.

Prevention from Cruelty to animals for Ivory Products:

Due to increase in recent demands of the ivory jewelry, animals are illegally killed and harmed for collecting their tusks. This unlawful animal slaughter is intensified in recent years.

For prevention from this crime, the government in many countries put a complete ban on ivory products. White elephant of Asia is the major victims of poaching due to this cause and so the government of India and Africa put a ban on using elephant tusks for ivory where these elephant species are mostly found.

From preventing Animal from poaching and getting extinct many countries has tightened the laws and put a ban on these kinds of products to rescue their animals.

Commercial Significance of Ivory Products

Ivory is not only used in making jewelry piece but creating other artistic work ivory has been used in making weapons, god and goddess sculptures, carvings images of animals and ornaments etc. The ivory product such as boxes, statues, bangle, necklaces and so on are heavy in demand.
Ivory jewelry is a unique substance jewelry which is famous in India. The jewelry is in heavy demand because of its traditions; and unique exquisite style. People from the entire world adore this jewelry as it gives the perfect and tribal feel.

Bone Jewelry

Bone Jewelry

Photo Credit: Thomas Quine (Aboriginal bone necklace), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bone Jewelry is unique but authentic and prestigious art style which is accomplishing in India from 400 years ago. Carving of bone in different types of jewelry and other art styles is a very old tradition.

When metals and other gemstones are not known tribal or village people make jewelry from these easily available bones of various faunas and adorn it. It looks elegant, stylish and yet cheap.

Earlier, there are many superstitious stories are also related to these types of jewelry and how those have an effect on human life.
Bones are used by humans for jewelry from history. For example, Camel’s bones are used for making combs. Nowadays, as ivory is banned, Bone-inlay material is used and became very popular in handicraft industries.

Bone-inlay means bones are combined with wood to make products. Today these bone-inlay products like boxes, bracelets, jewelry, drawers, decorative crafts, planters are heavy in demands. Indian bone-inlay craft markets are on niche comparing to other handicraft product markets.
Rajasthan and Gujarat which is heavy handicraft hub enriched with masterpieces made of bone inlay craft and jewelry pieces which has huge trend outside.
Different types of bone and bone – inlay ornaments are made in different elegant and unique patterns such as buffalo’s horns patterns, dragon or dolphin style, elephant type, twisted bone style or bird style and in many more motifs.

Protection of craftsmen engaged in Bone craft

Proper prevention and care are needed for the craftsmen who are working on bone items or bone jewelry. Some prevention steps are as follows:
• Proper carbon silver respiratory masks are used for craftsman as bone dust is dangerous for the respiratory system of human being.
• Bone should be properly cleaned, washed and put in medicine to avoid any type of allergy after wearing bone jewelry.
• Bone jewelry should be stored in soft pouches.
• When we wear this jewelry we should be away from perfumes and hairspray as they put a strain on bones.
• Bone jewelry exposure to heat and cold may cause a crack in jewelry.

Making of Bone Jewelry:

Bone jewelry should be crafted carefully. These are carved by machine tools. Bones are generally white, but different sources like horns are in black color so bones are first cleaned with soapy water and a stiff brush.

These bones are then boiled in dilute acid. Until the bones lose the greasiness of raw bone, then the bones are rinsed properly and tied and then it is bleached. A foul odor is also removed properly before using the bone to craft them in jewelry.
Various bone products available in the market are necklaces, glass beads, shells, bangles, bracelets, pendants, photo frames, lampshades, earrings, jewelry boxes head ornaments, belts etc.

Bone jewelry gives an elegant and enthralling look in any occasion. It looks fashionable with casual outfits also. It emblazes perfect simple, stylish and modern attire in the wearer.

I love to write about art and craft and exploring the cultural heritage of India. I like to gather knowledge about the evolution of art and craft. Love to explore heritage and art and craft concealed in our past history.