So males may not be too interested in the Jewelleries but females are. For definition Jewellery is any ornament that is worn on a human body not for functional use but for the purpose of showing status, be it social status, relationship, or wealth status or for the purpose of enhancing your beauty. Notice that we say ornaments here, as the same can be done with clothes and other accessories as well but they cannot be considered Jewelleries.
With this being cleared, the reason why we said males may not be too interested in it, is because there is a surprising lack of Jewellery for men and since there is not much to get excited about, there is not much to be interested about but there is an exception if you are looking into it as a craft or if you have someone close who is interested into Jewelleries. Note that we are generalizing here. With that being said, we have our own sets of jewellery with their own set of purposes. Today we will learn about 10 of them.
1 Mangalsutra (मंगलसुत्र)
In short, a Mangalsutra is a Necklace that is usually made up of thin strands of glass beads which are combined into one. You can see this all over Nepal and as a matter of fact, if you do not see this too often, it means that Nepal has either gotten too progressive and has totally forgotten the culture or you are not in Nepal. We say this is because this Jewellery in the general sense is a symbol of a married female. It is not like Mangalsutra is worn by only married people though. It is worn by unmarried and young girls as well but this is only in the case of the cultural festivals and other such occasions.
With that being said there are expensive Mangalsutra as well and while the body remains the same with the beads, the top can be of either gold or heavily gold plated silver or bronze with intricate designs to show the status and riches of the husband as well as themselves. The better the top, the more status, and riches are shown although this is not the primary purpose of this Jewellery.
2 Tayo (तायो)
This is another Necklace but in this case, this Jewellery is specific to the Newari Culture. The design is a bit complicated as the body of this Jewellery is usually made from red or brown glass beads and the tip or the head is made from bronze or gold and has a is crafted into a specific shape. The head consists of a multi-headed serpent that represents the multiple kingdoms of the Kathmandu valley and a pointed oval shape which represents the peace around the valley.
Now if you didn’t know this back in the days each district was a kingdom in itself but among all the other kingdoms the kingdoms around Kathmandu Valley were not too much in conflict and functioned as one unit for the most part. Since the Kathmandu valley is the palace where Native Newari people came from, this necklace functions as a symbol of peace and harmony in the place where the Newari culture and tradition originated from. Needless to say, this is only worn in cultural ceremonies.
3 Kanth (कण्ठ)
With this Jewellery, we hit the hat-trick on Jewelleries that are more or fewer necklaces. Just like the ones before, Kanth is a type of necklace as well. Worn in Nepal by the castes such as Limbu, Magar, Kirant, and Gurung, this is a piece of Jewellery which is made from recycled hard-wood or glasses turned into beads of different colors and strung together to form a colorful necklace.
This is a purely decorative accessory but the good thing is that although the main form is a necklace you can find Kanth bracelets to wear on your wrist as well. The price is cheap as well and it draws the eye of all who see this once.
4 Jantar (जन्तर)
As you can guess by now a lot of Jewellery in Nepal is in the form of Necklaces and this is to be expected as Necklace can be rather versatile on the material used and have a lot of room for designing as well. Jantar is also a form of such and this is a religious Jewellery rather than a cultural one. The Jantar as all of the necklaces so far are mostly strung beads. What makes it different from others is the presence of Mandala as its top and as its main design.
As many people know mandala is a formation of patterns which is prominent in both Hindu and Buddhist religion and it is believed that wearing a Mandala on your neck protects you from evil eyes and bad luck. This is also one of the reasons why kids are made to wear a cloth version of Jantar so that they will be safe from bad luck.
5 Nakhe Fuli / Nose pin (नाखे फुली)
Taking a break from the Necklaces, here we have a Jewellery which is worn on the nose. As its English name suggests it is a nose pin worn on the side of the nose after piercing it. Unlike many other cultures where nose piercing is just a modern thing, nose piercing has been in Nepal for a long time and has been used to wear nose rings. Back in the days, this used to be a sign of braveness and strength of the heart of the females.
The reason is as you can guess, one has to be able to bear a lot of pain to do a piercing, especially back in the days when it was done without modern machines. Add that it was rather expensive to call a professional to do the piercing and to take care of the piercing afterward, this was already seen as a sign of riches and status even without including the nose pin. Now when you add the fact that most nose pins are either bronze, silver, or gold, then this becomes an ultimate symbol of richness and status within a community. The bigger the Nakhe Fuli, the richer the person.
6 Makashi (माक:शी)
Just like Nakhe Fuli, this is also a symbol of money and status as well. Unlike Nakhe Fuli, this is not worn on Nose but on the ear. This is a type of ear-ring but also not exactly an earring. The main difference between an ear-ring and a makashi is that this is more like a container than a ring. A hollow egg-shaped container made out of either bronze, silver, or gold with a hook to attach to the ear.
Just like with the Nakhe Fuli, it was rather expensive to do the ear piercing so this was a status of rich due to all the same reasons. The slight difference is that Newari old people have to wear this after a ritual called “janku” which is first done at the age of 77 regardless of gender. For the younger generation, however, this is mostly a cultural Jewellery.
7 Jun Clip / Moon clip (जुन क्लिप)
Although we do admit that the clip is not necessarily a Nepali word, it is still better than saying that thing that holds hair. Funnily, despite the range of words that the Nepali Language has, there is no specific word for “Clip”, which is why this traditional Nepali Jewellery is called a Jun clip and as the name suggests, it is just a hair clip. The Jun in the name means moon and it is because the clip is in the shape of the crescent moon.
Back in the days, this used to be highly decorated and used to be a status symbol but as the time went on, the decoration became less, and later it began to symbolize peace within one’s heart in reference to how the sky with a clear moon is peaceful and the clearer and cleaner this Jewellery the more calm and peaceful the owner is. As this is made from gold, silver, or even clear glass, it can be hard to keep this clean.
8 Chura/ Bangles (चुरा)
We all know this, we all have seen this and a lot of us have even worn this. A classic symbol of femininity is the Chura which is both a Jewellery and an ornament. Since this Jewellery can be both cheap and expensive this is less of a status symbol and more of a decorative Jewellery and a symbol of femininity and purity. The common bangles are made from glass and are quite easily breakable but this also means that it is cheap as well.
While this is the case, for the most part, there are also expensive Churas that are made from gold and silver with exquisite carvings on them, and this is indeed used as a status symbol but for the most part, the significance of Chura is for femininity rather than status. Needless to say, males who wear this are disgraced as this is specifically meant for females unless it is worn in a stage performance.
9 Aunthi/Ring (औंठी)
This is a common Jewellery all throughout the world and has different meanings depending on the occasion in which it is worn and the type as well. For instance, there are religious rings with gemstones embedded in them as well as symbolic rings which show status as well as marital status, along with the rings which are worn in specific ceremonies as well each with their specific names. Going through every one of them is almost impossible and we won’t go into that.
Regardless of that, we all know that rings hold a special place in all the Nepalese cultures and traditions. Along with this, the more exquisite the embedding, the more expensive the ring is. This among the few things which makes Nepali rings unique as the most expensive rings in Nepal are those which have low carat gold/silver but rare and expensive gemstones embedded in them.
10 Tengura (तेंगुरा)
We are saving the most unique for the last. While this Jewellery is indeed necklace-type jewellery, this is not made from beads or metals like others. Instead of this, the main component is bone. Yes, you heard it right the main component is bones which are collected from animals such as horses and then shaped in a phallic (phallic is a term used to signal that the material is related to or resembles male genitalia) form.
As you may guess this Jewellery is not so common. This is special to the western region of Nepal and in this Jewellery Bones are joined together with metal grooves. There is a belief that since the bones are from naturally dead animals and are respectfully extracted, the spirit of the animal will protect the user from the evil forces and bring good luck whenever this piece of Jewellery is worn.
So now that you have reached the end of this article we don’t want to mess up the mood so would you like to check out our list of “10 Nepali Utensils That You Probably Didn’t Know The Use For!” or if you are a foodie you can also check out “Top 10 Newari Foods That You Must Try” as well.