Jewellery of Karnataka

Jewellery of Karnataka


The state abounds in striking jewellery, often infused with religious connotations. A cast-brass ring or nandin anguthi is worn by Shiva Lingayat devotees --- the ring depicts god Shiva's vehicle, the bull Nandin, who wears a lingayat amulet box containing a lingam, Lord Shiva's most important symbol, flanked by three protecting hooded cobras. Female Lingayat Virashiva or lay persons (linga banajiga) wears silver lingam caskets or ayigalu, shaped in the form of an abstracted egg. Gundgurdgi lingam caskets are also a worn on the left arm or by a Lingayat Jangam priest under a cloth cap on the head. The silver lingam caskets are often pot shaped and each contains a movable jangama or lingam. The caskets are also square or chauka in form, with projections on them that symbolise Nandin, Lord Shiva's bull mount and Basava --- Lord of cattle and men, who protects his devotees against evils ---, founder of the sect. For obtaining male offspring, Lingayat women wear a gold fertility necklace consisting of thirty pendants set in gold, each with a symbolic meaning connected with fertility, alternating with a long gold tube bead. Gemstone settings can be found on the chain. Black and red coral are both used. For the worship of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the Lingayats use a specifically designed polychrome wood necklace. A striking item of jewellery worn in Karnataka is called the tulunad, which is a cast-brass two-part belt, with its top edged with cobra heads with expanded hoods. At the front is a cobra clasp. Protective tiger-claw amulets or vyaghranakhas are pendants set in gold and suspended on a gold chain, mainly worn by children. Children also wear a belt of bells around their hips to frighten away evil spirits. The other ornaments worn by children are bell-anklets also called painjani. Another special ornament found have is a silver amulet box on a chain. This is ornamental with a central figure of a makara or kirtimukha flanked by birds and bands of floral creepers. The box unscrews at one end for the insertion of magical protective objects and mantras on sheets of metal or paper. Flat, repoussť decorated silver hair ornaments called jadaibillai or phirkichephul, backed with copper spirals (kambi suriyulla), are used in hair braids or in buns to hold them in place. Gold ear-studs include stamped units variously ornamented with red stones and pearls. A popular piece of jewellery here is the kamardani or silver loop-in-loop belt which has a hooked closing. Silver-winged signet rings or mohr are popular; they are also made in gold. The silver ankle-foot-toe ornaments worn by the bride at a Coorgi marriage ceremony are popular among the people of Kodagu or Coorg.

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