Assam is known for its plains with greenery, varied wildlife, exquisite jewellery styles, bountiful natural resources and diverse culture.
The traditions and attire of Assam along with its enchanting jewellery styles reflect the presence of many tribes and kingdoms that have shaped the state’s culture. From wild habitats and ancient temples to the jewellery styles inspired by nature, Assam has it all.
Traditional Assam jewellery is crafted with hands by the skilled artisans and workers of Assam. The traditional jewellery designs contain motifs of flora and fauna as well as musical instruments such as dhol.
Here’s everything you need to know about the traditional jewellery of Assam.
While some scholars believe that the word ‘Assam’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Asoma which means unparalleled, the majority of the academic circles believe that the term has come from the original name of the Ahoms kings, who ruled Assam for about six hundred years.
It was during the Ahom dynasty, Gold-washing along with the Manufacturing of Gold Ornaments flourished in Assam.
Even though Gold dust was abundantly found in the sands of different rivers of the state, the major quantities were taken from the river Subansiri (one of the major tributaries of the Brahmaputra).
It was during the rule of the Ahom kings that the gold-washing on the banks of the Subansiri became the major profession in Assam. Ever since then, Assam has been famous for its traditional Gold jewellery.
Jorhat (located in Upper Assam), Nagaon (located in Central Assam), & Barpeta (located in Lower Assam) are the main districts where Assamese jewellery is manufactured.
Assamese jewellery in Jorhat is very famous among the locals as well as the tourists. The artisans who make the traditional Assam jewellery are called ‘Sonari’ in the Assamese language.
Traditional Jewellery of Assam
Traditional Assamese jewellery is made with hands by the Assamese artisans. Inspired by nature, most of the styles include motifs of birds, animals, musical instruments such as dhol, drum, pepa, etc.
Designed and crafted by the artisans, Assam jewellery features exquisite craftsmanship.
Read everything about the different types of traditional Assam jewellery below!
An ancient piece of Assamese jewellery, Dug-dugi is an ornament for a woman’s neck. With its name still being a mystery, Dug-dugi is a heart-shaped pendant.
Crafted in the round shape, Kerumuni has a hollow pendant called “Keru”. The strands of this necklace consist of Pearls or moti.
Initially, this type of design was only used in earrings but as the trends have evolved, it is now being used in the pendants as well.
These are the traditional Assamese earrings that are adorned by aged women of Assam. The traditional Thuriya has a very unique shape. It consists of a front side that looks like a flower, a thin middle portion and a wider bottom portion.
Its design helps the earrings to stay intact in the ears.
This is a chunky bracelet/bangle made of silver or gold. Adorned by Assamese women, Gam-Kharu is one of the most beautiful jewels of Assam. It can be opened with a golden knot attached to it and therefore, it can fit anyone.
“Paro” means pigeons!
In Loka Paro, the pendant is embellished with identical pigeons, positioned one after the other and attached to a string containing gold beads.
The pigeons embossed on the Loka Paro necklace are adorned with a wide variety of gemstones such as Rubies, Emeralds, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, etc.
You can buy such designs of Assam jewellery online.
In Assamese, Jon means the Moon and Biri is the surrounding designs of Jonbiri. This is an eye-catching accessory that is adorned by the beautiful women of Assam.
Its design is inspired by musical instruments, nature and household goods of Assam.
Inspired by Dhol (a musical instrument), the traditional Dholbiri comes in dhol shape. It is considered as one of the most popular decorative ornaments for Assamese women.
Gal means neck and pata is the flat design of Gal-pata. Adorned by the beautiful women of Assam, Gal-pata is a traditional choker necklace made of Gold. It is embellished with intricate floral designs.
How are these jewellery styles crafted? The making of Assamese Jewellery
Traditional Assamese jewellery is crafted by a group of Artisans known as “Sonari”. Most of the jewellery styles contain silver or lac as their base metal and Gold foil as their coating.
However, as the trends are evolving, people have started to prefer Gold base over the silver or lac base. As a result of which, Assamese jewellery now comes in 3 types of metal variations.
- The frame is made with Gold and the filling is done with Silver or Lac metal. The styles that contain Gold as their base are known as “Kecha Sonar Gahana” or pat Sonar Gahana.
- The frame is made with Silver or Lac and the filling is done with Gold foils.
- The frame is made with Silver and the filling is also done with Silver metal. The entire piece is then coated with Gold metal.
Once the frame is ready, the jewellery piece is then adorned with Kundan and Meena stones. Originally, artisans used to embellish the piece with precious gemstones such as Rubies, Emeralds and Garnets but due to the high cost, the demand for such pieces decreased. However, there are a few Artisans who make jewellery encrusted with precious gemstones.
You can buy such styles of Assam jewellery online or at the Ranthali village of Assam.
Ranthali Village of Assam
Picture Courtesy: https://nagaon.gov.in/
Ranthali village is famous for “Assamese jewellery” not only in the state but also throughout India. Located approximately 8 km away from Nagaon town, Ranthali village is the home to the majority of the skilled jewellery artisans of Assam.
Almost 90 percent of the total people living in Ranthali are engaged in the Assamese Jewellery business
Traditional Attires worn by the different Tribes of Assam
Assam is the home to a variety of racial stocks such as Monogrid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian, and Aryan. Each of these tribes has its own unique culture, tradition, lifestyle and clothing.
Here is a list of the traditional dresses of the major tribes that reside in Assam.
Bodo tribe is the largest and the most famous tribe in the North Eastern region. The women of this tribe adorn Dokhna- an outfit that runs right from the chest, down to the ankles. It is wrapped around the body.
Available in a plethora of vibrant hues, Dokhna can be adorned with or without an Agor.
Dokhna without an Agor (also known as Salamantha) is used as the bridal dress
Nowadays, Bodo women wear blouse along with a scarf on it.
The Mishing Tribe
Mishing tribe inhabit 11 districts of Assam. The Mishing tribe is the second largest tribe in the North eastern region of India.
The women of this tribe adorn simple and colorful attire.
Gero: Gero is the upper body garment and is tied around the waist and chest on top of ege. The traditional Gero consists of a white colored cloth with red and black colours.
Sori Potali: It is similar to Gero except for the fact that the design in a Sori Potali is woven in check with red and black colors.
The Rabha Tribe
Koum Kontong: It is a skirt that is wrapped around the waists of Assamese women. It has exquisite vibrant patterns
Kambang: It is used to cover the upper body.
A belt made of beautiful shells and pearl balls is usually adorned by Assamese women. Tied around the abdomen, these belts are commonly called the Labok.
The Dimasa Tribe
It is a long piece of cloth that is worn on the the waist and it goes down all the way to the ankles.
It is an ankle length cloth and therefore is widely worn during the summer seasons.
So these were the traditional jewellery styles and attires worn by the Assamese women. Which type of jewellery did you like the most?
Drop comments and let us know your favorite pick!