A Cultural Kaleidoscope of Karnataka

You cannot sum up India’s jewellery heritage without paying a special tribute to Karnataka. Keen to explore the diverse jewellery culture of India, Deepa Mishra this time turned south and unearthed some exquisite jewels from Karnataka’s treasure trove.

Karnataka is the tourism capital of India. From pristine beaches to rolling hills, from silk sarees to sandalwoods and from art forms to architectural structures, people from India and overseas come here to soak into its distinct beauty. But what bowls them over is the jewellery heritage of Karnataka.

With the history of gold mines in Kolar, once this state was the leading producer of gold in India and that has deeply entrenched gold jewellery into its culture. If you ever get a chance to attend a Kannada wedding, don’t miss it. It would be the true spectacle of Karnataka’s traditional designs. From head to toe, whether brides or women in general, are bejewelled in exquisite jewels. What’s more! The Goddess Lakshmi is the most favoured image engraved on the ornaments and so is the practice of setting in ruby and emerald stones.

A striking piece of jewellery worn on festivals and weddings is a layered chain called Entele Sara which is strung with gold beads. It is hard to imagine a Kannada bride without this essential piece of jewel. While it infuses a traditional charm into her look, its lavish design makes up for the accent ornament on the bride.

entele sara- Floroscent

A pious addition to the bridal set, Laxmi Sara is a necklace with a series of coins that have goddess of wealth Goddess Laxmi engraved on them. Another ornament that adorns women’s neckline in this region is Haram. Nothing short of a statement necklace, it is basically a long mala with intricate detailing in its design. That’s not all. With mango leaf-patterns, Mavinakayi Addigai is a style of necklace that elevates the bride’s look several notches.

laxmi sara- Floroscent

Mangalay-sutra – the sacred thread worn by married women in Karnataka is referred as Maangalya-Sutra and is more or less similar in design to that of Maharashtrian vaati-mani Mangalsutra. It can be further embellished with pearls or coloured corals. But the Coorgi community here wears Karthamani Pathak as a marital symbol. Essentially a gold coin which is bordered by the cobra motif, Pathak is a pendant whereas Karthamani is a pearl necklace that holds the Pathak and can also be adorned with gold.

mangalay sutra- Floroscent

Apart from neckwears, this tradition is also a reserve of some exceptional bridal wears. Just as in any other culture of India, brides here too love to adorn their forehead with a head accessory. But known for its gems settings, the mangtikka equivalent of this region – Netri Chutti, is embellished lavishly with colour stones.

netri chutti- Floroscent

As you dart your eyes away from the bride’s head, you will be captivated by the earrings that do the talking for this diverse culture. Charmed by the allure of jhumka, the women here too flaunt bell-shaped danglers. Just that here it goes by a different name – Muthina Vale Jhimki. Generally made of gold, this pair of earrings also comes with coloured stones and diamonds thrown in.

Muthina Vale Jhimki- floroscent

Bangles? There is no dearth of stunning options in this rich and varied culture. Apart from Guruvina Kada, you have the antique-looking Kettu Bale, the Pacha Kampina Bale and the Kasina Bale to go in for. To bejewel the finger, Pacha Kempina Ungaru’s twisted design does the trick. For an opulent look, it also comes studded with ruby and emerald stones.

It’s not over yet. Karnataka also boasts of Tholu Bandhi, a bridal armlet that adds the deserved sparkle to the bridal ensemble, while a silver pair of Hebbats sit pretty on each of the second toe of a married women.

tholu bandhi- Floroscent

This is just a glimpse of Karnataka’s illustrious jewellery heritage. The more you explore, the more you discover. With an impressive portfolio, from traditions to techniques, it would not be wrong to say that if ever the jewellery capital of India be made, Karnataka would be the strongest contender.

(The writer is Content Head, PNG Jewellers)

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