Designs inspired by heritage
Sometime ago, a clutch of designers from Japanese fashion house Kenzo did the round of ancient Hindu temples and were so taken in by the intricate design work, the crafted their next collection on it. Two in the group Humberto Leon and Carol Lim had their stunning ensembles (long jackets and pants and wrap-arounds; not saris and lehengas) infused with temple brick work and serpent prints. The collection met with rave reviews – that’s how contemporary and internationally appealing Indian motifs can be!
The reason for this is not difficult to guess. A culture; a heritage that is as old as India’s has a strong history; a huge body of styles, memories and traditions seeping through every fabric of its being. Traditional Indian jewellery design is no exception to these influences that mainly emerge from two R factors - religion and royalty. Over the years, both these influences have left a deep impression on the exotic, oriental designs, giving it a timeless, almost surreal appeal.
To a trained eye, there is a clear connection between our jewellery designs and the wall paintings of Ajanta Ellora caves, Pallava sculptures, Chola bronzes, Mughal miniatures and modern Indian jewellery sold by the established design houses today. While the basic elements and combination of their designs, imprints, metal and stones may vary, the leitmotif remains the same – and timeless. This is the enduring quality of Indian jewellery that makes it stand apart from the clutter. Exquisitely and intelligently hand crafted, these pieces appear to transcend history and seamlessly connect the past with the present and even the future!
Indeed, it’s essential for a society like ours, with a 5,000-year-old deep-rooted culture of jewellery making to hark back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, protect and preserve those old techniques and our authenticity, to keep our identity intact in a world that has shrunk to the size of a global village.
Hailed as a land of the Maharajas and Maharanis of yore, we are indebted and wedded to the legacy they have left behind; the clothes they wore and the jewels they adorned themselves with. If you’ve been to the Golconda fort in Hyderabad and attended the ‘Sound and Light’ show there, would have heard in the story in the clink of a maid’s gold amulet; felt a sliver of romance in the story of the eye-popping Golconda diamond as light as a paperweight; the Mysore silk sarees made of material so fine, all six yards could pass through a ring; or of pendants studded with colored rhinestones, encased in gold that revealed themselves only when the pendant was shattered.
Indian jewellery, like Indian wedding is all about opulence. As a melting pot of various cultures and subcultures, we are lucky we get to witness all this cultural mélange in our lives. Over the years, we may have started taking it for granted, but it’s an integral part of our lives – and the image that we present to the world.
Today, it makes us happy to see that Indian jewellery designers are once again making a concerted attempted at re-seeking that connection with their past. Body jewellery is emerging as a new trend in their portfolio, especially in flea markets of Rajasthan and Goa, where you will find the loudest, the chunkiest jhoomars, maang tikas, haathphools and hair accessories sold as part of the Indian bridal wear. It’s been there since ages; only it’s now being accessorized and contemporized.
And with good effect.