Holding a beautiful jhumka by her ears the young girl is a mirror image of her mother at 16. Traditional temple Jewellery comes with a connection to our roots, our heritage. It brings fond memories of our dearest grandmothers and how they looked. It makes our daughters look like the goddess herself.
” I am going now to paint a house. It pays me more. I don’t want my son to enter this same profession” says a Karigar. The contrast in the feelings towards this amazing craft is simply stark. Meagre credit, exploitation by middlemen, unstable prices of raw materials, cheap imitations in the market, power cuts for long hours – these are the forces that they are battling with and certainly not on the winning side.
The methodology that is used in making of temple jewellery is handed down from centuries and includes making the silver frames, twisting the silver wire into intricate designs, hand-carving the silver, fixing the wax, embedding the stones, and covering it with repeated layers of gold leaves.
In this process the mythical yali, the swan, parrot, peacock, mango, the naga (serpent), lotus, and delicate creepers all burst into life in elaborately carved paddakkams (large pendant) addigai (choker), manga malai (mango necklace )muthu saram ( knitted pearls) Mohana malai ( gold bead chains), vanki ( arm bands) oddiyanam ( waist band) and so on.
It is not just that the designs are inspired by nature but the choice of motifs have a spiritual significance too. Swans are a symbol of viveka ( power of discrimination), parrots reflect the ability to represent the knowledge without any distortions, lotus is a reminder of the fully blossomed consciousness – in this way there is something magical and deep in each design. The gilded layers entrap glorious history, mystical depth and eternal beauty.
“The royals patronized this art in the past”shares the craftsman, ” but today patronage is needed from all sections, from everyone who loves things beautiful.” This is essential so that we can still reach out into our cupboard to pull out and wear that exquisite neck piece that adds luster to your kanchivaram on every momentous occasion.