Silver Ornaments from Gujarat

 

Unlike the other tribal jewellery traditions of India, that of Gujarat closely resembles the local peasant jewellery. This phenomenon is perhaps due to the proximity of tribal communities to residential areas or the presence of common trade markets.The silver jewelery of Kutch has become an identity for individuals as well as tribal groups wherein specific patterns and locations of wearing the ornament become important. The Vatla is a spiral necklace worn by Harijan women. Nagali, or spring earrings are a sign of marriage.Bungri or Phul, worn in helix by Rabari andBharvad men and boys, sits on top of the ear like an umbrella. Jewellery also functions as a significant form of portable wealth, a phenomenon obviated by the popularity of solid, heavy items with little or no carving. Vigorous geometric forms and the use of spherical forms—either as gola (hollow balls) or goli (solid granules)—dominate the design vocabulary of the indigenous ornaments that are crafted through the techniques of metal cutting, forming, stamping, repoussé and granulation.

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Process

Silver is procured from Rajkot and Ahmedabad in the form of biscuits and bricks.It then undergoes a number of processes. In Dahod, the Soni community creates these silver ornaments. Silver is melted in the bhatti and poured into a cast to obtain a thick circular wire that is then hammered or bent on a wooden rod into the desired shape.They emboss and cut, spring wind thin and thick wires to get conical shapes, beat patterns on the lacquer filled 3D forms and make concentric wire filigrees with granulation.Silver is mostly preferred in its original color, only in some cases to add accents, Meena work is done. After this process, known as the ghadavanu, the ornament is polished by washing it in a solution of soap nut powder. These ornaments reflect designs that not only exude richness and the affluent status of an individual but also hold as great instruments for safety and health. Women wear broad kadas with poky nail like protrusions on the surface, which is a traditional design, but it provides safety from wild animals when they are in the forest, rearing cattle and collecting wood. Thoriya, a stud for the cartilaginous cavity of the auricle, is said to be important for acupuncture points, to ensure good health.The ornaments are used daily and hence; often one can find things of utility like toothpicks and ear cleaners in silver, dangling in the form of lockets.

History

Bhuj has been the center for trade and commerce for all the villages around it . The silver market popularly named as Sarafa Bazaar is around 200-250 years old and is existent from the time of Maharajas. Dining sets, tea pots, cups, cutlery, bowls to other articles of a lavish lifestyle like jhulas, candle stands, jhumars, furniture were traditionally made and sold in the market.The silver working traditions of Gujarat are concentrated in Radhanpur and Patan, two centres with individual styles catering to the jewellery requirements of the Thakur, Rabari, Bharwad, Ahir, Kanbi, Totiya, Mutwa and Patel communities.

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