Who decided what to adorn?
Each culture chooses to adorn different parts of the body. Some are unique to India.
Like these gold anklets decorated to the nth degree.
The septum nose rings called bullukku, found in very few cultures.
Jewels for different parts of the ear known as koppu or kunukku.
Look at these earrings
We have peacocks, parrots, the iruthalai pakshi or double-headed bird, coins, and flowers– motifs of India
A Japanese would have left it at just one style of earring.
In India, no. Our sense of ornamentation is maximalist, not minimalist.
The materials used whether it is gold, silver or gems come from the land.
The motifs and their meanings are intertwined with local culture and stories.
Take anklets, for example.
Why did we invent jingles as a woman walks?
My feminist Indian friends say that it is so the husband can keep tabs on his wife as she walks around the house.
I think that the reasons are less about power and more about sensuality.
We describe these anklets in many ways.
calat-caraṇa-nūpuram—moving ankle bells
lasat-kāñcana-nūpuram—His legs are decorated with golden ankle bells
Less is more?
In that sense, India is not like Scandinavia with its “less is more aesthetic.”
Nor it is like Japanese minimalism.
We have a “more is more” aesthetic.
When a god is adorned in temples, we put more and more jewels till nothing else is visible.
We call this “alankaram.”
Anklets in Sanskrit: noopuram
In this song, Lord Rajagopala or Vishnu is described as “Mani Nupura Dhari.”
He who wears pearl anklets or nupura
For global business travellers who work in multiple cultures, there are many ways to understand the people that they interact with.
One way is to observe a culture’s aesthetic.
Jewellery is both gloriously unique to a culture and eternal to all cultures.
In that sense, jewellery conforms to the notions of alankara and aabharana
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