History and Significance of Men’s Jewelry In Indian Culture
The story of India’s fascination with jewelry began some 5,000 years ago. Since those times, Indian men as well as women have adorned themselves with various ornaments made of gemstones, gold, and silver. Women have had a special affinity for gold jewelry; their ornaments have been noteworthy and widely available across the length and breadth of the country and abroad. However, men’s jewelry, though less extensive in its variety, has had its own charm.
One doesn’t often think of men when talking about jewelry however, jewelry traditions are as much a male domain as a female one. Dig into the significance of jewelry in Indian culture for men. From necklaces, rings and bracelets, male jewelry traditions are not just about decoration, but also symbols of power, culture, and even spirituality.
Symbolic and Spiritual Significance Of Men’s Jewelry
Indian jewelry is not only ornamental but has amuletic properties too. Believed to provide health and astrological benefits in Ayurvedic and Hindu astrological traditions, people stimulate acupressure points using piercings and other jewelry.
- Metal Meanings
Gold is the most popular metal used in making jewelry. It is durable and doesn’t tarnish despite everyday use. For many Indians of Hindu faith, gold is considered precious. It is believed that gold has the power to purify anything it touches. It is also considered as a sign of power and wealth. Aside from that, it also symbolizes good health and prosperity.
- Spiritual Protection
The form and function of many types of Indian jewelry for men is primarily for protection. For example, pendants for men arose from the primal need to protect the self against the harmful effects of the evil spirits. Often worn on a necklace or bracelet, pendants are believed to have the power to deflect danger, protect from evil, and even have the power to attract good.
- Financial Protection
British industrialist Sir Thomas Wardle commented in 1901 that ‘the skill in India in making brooches and bangles out of silver rupees is astonishing, full of patterns and flowing format’, something which remains a widespread practice for both Indian men and women. This was practical as well as decorative. The coins had an intrinsic value and using them as jewelry added to the financial security of the wearer.
Most Popular Men’s Jewelry Designs
- Necklaces And Chain
Royal or wealthy Indian men usually wear strings of diamonds, emeralds and pearls, called malas, in contrast to heavy kundan jewelry of the women. Men of all Indian communities are also commonly seen to wear the hansli, a collar-like necklace, or thin gold chains. The name hansli was derived from the clavicle, which is where this ornament rests. In western Indian culture, it is more common to find men adorn themselves with simple gold chains such as cuban link style designs.
- Kada Bangles
The popular and well-known kada is a bracelet commonly worn by Indian men of all religions. Kadas are a form of bangle made of gold or silver. The inner side of Kada bangles are sometimes covered by floral designs of colorful enamel, intertwined elephant trunks, peacocks, or crocodiles. Among royalty, kada bangles are made of silver or gold with an enameled inner plate, featuring animal and floral motifs.
- Binti Rings
Another popular ornaments for Indian men include the binti (or, beenti), a ring. These traditional rings for men are often set with gemstones in accordance with the wearer’s astrological chart or engraved with depictions of religious deities. It’s believed that the soft part of the fingers is an acupressure point and beneficial for a man’s physical and spiritual health.
As Indian jewelry for men dates long back and is still revered for their cultural significance, it cannot hope to cover the complexities of centuries-old jewelry traditions of Indian men. These ornaments are interwoven into the fabric of everyday life – not only for decoration, but health benefits, and as a social and political indicator of a man, and his relationship to his community, religion and self.
Today, the practice of wearing such jewelry by men is mostly confined to special occasions and festivals, although there are some daily-wear pieces. For more information on Indian jewelry designs for men, visit our website or schedule an appointment with one of our in-store jewelry experts.
Written by Taylor C. Heron
Lead Copywriter for Virani Jewelers