QuizWhy do Tamil women love kempu so much?
The Tamil aesthetic is tuned to muted colours and high-quality material.
People love kempu because of high-quality rubies without additional embellishments.
“No jigina,” or sparkly stuff, as traditionalists would say.
Kempu jewellery fits this profile to a T.
QuizHow is kempu jewellery designed?
Typically with minimal intervention to showcase the beauty of the rubies.
Common motifs are used. The mango, peacock, makara, hamsa, and flowers.
But mostly kempu addigais (or choker-like necklaces) string the oval cabochon rubies from Burma without additional fuss.
When did kempu jewellery flourish?
During the Chola, Pandya and Krishnadevaraya periods. Between the 9th and 16th century.
Also during the early part of the 20th century when Tamil men travelled to Burma and Ceylon and brought back gems.
It has now evolved into costume jewellery, called temple jewellery. Mostly because people don’t have access to, or cannot afford the originals.
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