Jewellery is part of an Tamil woman’s identity.  Women generally wear bangles, nose rings, mangal-sutra, chains, anklets and toe rings, as dancer Urmila says in this post here.


The heroine pines for her loves, becomes thin. Bangles slip off her hands.


Oddiyanam. Used to highlight waist like a creeper. Kodi-idaiyaal

Nethi-Chutti (Maang Tikka)

Ornament in the center parting of the forehead.
Tamil dancing girl. Tanjore. 1830
Finger Ring (neli). Tamil Nadu, early 19th century. Gold with pendant pearl. LACMA

Jewels are linked to love in Tamil aesthetics.  There are two types of poetry in Tamil Sangam literature. 

Akam Poetry

Depicting the inner worlds of two lovers and their emotions

Puram Poetry

Depicting the outer world of kings

Rooted in tradition


Malligai moggu maalai or Jasmine bud garland became the inspiration for jewellery

Finger ring

Placed on nose thoughtfully or dreamily.
Jasmine Bud Necklace (Malligai Arumbu Malai),19th century. Ruby and gold. Met Museum.

Shiva Nataraja


Broad like the river


Jingling, keeping time to his dance

Try standing in this Tri-bhanga pose, I dare you.    


Three parts


Makara Kundala

Sacred Thread

For both men and women
Shiva and Parvati. 10th century. Chola Bronzes. Cleveland Museum. c. 950-960
Oddiyaanam. Waist belt. 19th century. MFA, Houston.


Indian Gem-Set Bottle. Mid-17th century. Gold with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

She approached him slow steps. Her bangles are crystal in color. Her curling hair resembles like sand-flow in river-bed. She came with her glittering jewels. She came in the dead-night when even the fishes sleep. She appeared as an artificial statue of beauty walking. She has garland in her neck. She hugged me so as I have some impression of her bangles in my back. Then what else I need? Be happy, my mind, the hero says to his mind.

Poem by Paranar, 2nd century B.C.