Kerala, the land of greenery and coconuts is famous for its art, exquisite cuisines, beautiful dance forms and enchanting Temple Jewellery.
The traditional jewellery of Kerala is known for its artistic work. Embossed with depictions of gods and goddesses from the temples in south India, jewellery of Kerala reflects the dignity of rich Indian culture.
Since the traditional jewellery of Kerala is crafted from vast quantities of gold, it makes for a great investment for the Keralan brides-even more than Diamonds.
Here’s everything you need to know about the history and cultural significance of Traditional jewellery of Kerala.
History Of Kerala Jewellery
Temple jewellery’s origin dates back to the dynasties of Chola and Pandya.
Earlier, temple jewellery styles were crafted by the Artisans with the precious metal donations that were made to temples in south India.
Soon after, jewellers started drawing inspirations from the deities and the work done on Temples’ walls & ceilings. They started to craft jewellery with the precious metals such as Gold. These jewels were adorned with temple-inspired motifs.
Initially, these jewellery styles were worn by the Temple dancers and devotees in their daily practices.
Over the course of time, temple jewellery became popular not only because it looked gorgeous but also because it evoked religious sentiment among people.
Thus, it became an essential adornment for every south Indian woman.
Different Types of Kerala Traditional Jewellery
Kerala jewellery designs are inspired by South Indian Temples. Almost every piece of Kerala jewellery is embossed by either deity and divine figures or floral motifs such as leaves, trees, flowers, coins, bells, etc.
Do you know why Keralan jewellery styles are adorned with temple motifs? It is because the temple motifs invoke a sense of divine presence in the life of the wearer. Therefore, the brides in Kerala wear Temple jewellery at their wedding.
Read all about the different types of Kerala Bridal Jewellery below!
Manga Mala Necklace
A typical Manga mala necklace is made of small mango-shaped pendants. It is the most common jewellery styled adorned in Kerala. It depicts the rich traditional jewellery of Kerala.
Mulla Motu Necklace (Jasmine Buds Necklace)
Jasmine buds necklace or the Mulla Mottu necklace consists of a series of jasmine petals that are stranded together to form a necklace.
This Kerala traditional jewellery piece comes in two types of designs- one with the plain gold jasmine petals made with Gold and the second one with a combination of gold Jasmine buds and gemstones.
Mulla Motu necklace makes for an important of Kerala bridal jewellery collection, therefore almost every Keralan woman has this jewellery style in her collection.
The word Pulinakham stands for the nails of a Tiger, therefore, Pulinakham Mala consists of the glass stones that are crafted in the shape of the tiger’s nails. These glass stones are strung together to form a beautiful necklace.
This classic jewellery is usually adorned by Keralan women with the traditional Keralan saree.
Similar to Mangalsutra worn by North Indian women, Karimani mala is made up of black and gold beads and is often worn by married women in Kerala. Karimani Mala is crafted in Gold.
Kasu or Lakshmi Mala
‘Kasu’ stands for coins and ‘Mala’ stands for a necklace, therefore Kasu Mala is crafted with a lot of coins that are strung together to form a necklace. These coins are embossed with the figure of Goddess Lakshmi, therefore it is also known by the name of Lakshmi Haar.
Green in color, Palakka Mala is a ‘leaf’ necklace that consists of either emeralds or imitation green stones. The design usually resembles a leaf having a gold border.
It is one of the oldest Kerala jewellery designs and resembles the hood of a snake which is why it is called Nagapada Thali. It consists of green colored stones such as Emeralds. These gemstones are strung in a Gold chain.
Pathakam consists of a Gold pendant in a Gold chain. This beautiful piece of traditional Keralan jewellery is made with pure Gold.
Poothali is made with the nature-inspired patterns and designs. It consists of rectangular pieces that are crafted with intricate flowers and leaves.
A ‘Kolusu’ is an anklet that is adorned by girls and women on weddings, religious as well as festive occasions in Kerala. Traditionally made in silver, Kolusu is available in gold as well.
Jhumkis or jhimkis are the traditional bell-shaped earrings. Adorned by the brides in Kerala, Jhimkis or Jhumkis form an important part of the Kerala bridal jewellery collection.
It comes in two types of designs. First one is an ear stud and the second one is a gold-plated earring adorned with small dangling bells.
Temple jhimkis are not only worn by Keralan brides but also by the women all over India. Available in a plethora of designs and metal choices, jhimkis are one of the most-worn jewellery styles by Indian women.
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Elakkathali is an important part of kerala bridal jewellery collection. It is a heavy choker necklace worn by the bride at her wedding.
Made of Gold, it is crafted with intricate designing and requires exquisite craftsmanship.
How are these styles crafted? The Making of Kerala Jewellery
As easy as it may sound, the craft that goes into making a single piece of Kerala traditional jewellery is very intricate.
It requires immense focus and a lot of hard work along with a delicate hand.
An individual piece takes anywhere between a couple of days to 1-2 months for the curation (the time period depends on the intricacy of the piece).
Check out the below-mentioned steps to get an understanding of the making-process of Kerala jewellery designs.
The molds and dyes are prepared according to the design of the piece. For instance, if the piece contains motifs of leaves then the molds in the shape of the leaves are prepared first.
How are these molds made?
Gold and silver bars are flattened into strips and then bent into the desired shape to make the mold.
These molds are then filled with the molten Gold/Silver or metal foils. This filling is done according to the design of the piece.
Most of the designs use silver as the base metal; therefore, silver is poured into the molds. The structure is then coated with a gold foil.
Once coated, these pieces are then soldered and polished to keep the luster intact. The final piece is then sent to the markets.
Modern take on Temple Jewellery
Initially, each and every piece of temple jewellery was crafted with hands, right from setting the mould to the filing and final finishing of the piece.
However, due to the advancements in technology, the modern style of jewellery-making has replaced most of the handwork with machine work. For instance, finishing and polishing of the pieces are now done by machines. This has significantly reduced the time taken to craft a single piece of Kerala jewellery.
Today, temple jewellery is available in all sorts of styles-right from earrings to necklaces to bangles, rings, chokers and kamarbandh.
Modern designs include gemstones, diamonds and filigree work along with regular temple motifs. The beauty of the modern style temple jewellery is that you can wear it with your regular festive outfits as well. For instance, you can style it with your lehenga, embellished ethnic gown, suits and what not.
However, traditional jewellery in Kerala looks the best with the traditional Keralan outfits such as a Kanchipuram saree.
Earlier, a traditional Kanchipuram saree (made of Silk) was usually adorned by a Hindu bride at her wedding but nowadays, everyone wears it on all sorts of occasions.
Kanchipuram sarees are woven from pure mulberry silk thread. It has distinct border colors and designs. The saree worn by the bride at her wedding is either made with zari or Gold thread.
Kanchipuram saree Sarees are distinguished by their wide contrast borders. The famous borders are made with the intricate Temple, checks, stripes and floral designs. The cost of Kanchipuram sarees varies widely depending upon the intricacy of work, colors, pattern, and the material used.
Which type of Kerala Jewellery did you like the most? Drop comments and let us know your favorite pick.