The state of West Bengal has always taken pride in its culture which is evident through the cuisine, art and craft, music and lifestyle of people living here. The attires and the jewellery items also reflect the tradition of Bengal. And gold is one of the most prominent metals used for carving jewellery items of Bengal. Weddings and other occasions are the best places where you can see a huge array of Bengali jewellery of latest as well as antique designs. This is because Bengalis believe that prosperity and happiness thrive in gold. Bengali brides wear a lot of gold especially during the marriage ceremony and continue to wear some of them all through their lives like “Sankha”, “Pola” and “Noa”. Here is a list of 25 exquisite designs that you can find in Bengali jewellery pieces.
While not all the jewellery items in the Bengali culture are made from gold, majority jewels feature gold in them. There are others that are made from ivory, silver and other lesser known metals for jewellery.
Gold Bangle with Wax Filling:
This particular gold based bangle is unique as it is filled with wax. Gold is mostly soft and highly malleable in nature. The wax is added to provide extra strength and durability to the bangle. Married Bengali women wear these bangles on daily basis to maintain tradition. It is known as ‘Gaala bhora bala’ in Bengali.
Sculptured Gold Bracelets:
In Bengal, art and craft hold great importance. Use of sculpture is evident in almost all facets of life including jewellery. Gold bracelets with sculptures or old paintings are called ‘Chur’ among Bengalis. Both unmarried girls and married women can wear this gold bracelet variety.
‘Chur’ Designs are Exquisite in Nature
The ‘Half Cut’ Bangle:
This gold based bangle is called ‘Bauti’ in Bengali and its design is such that the bangle is actually ‘half-cut’ instead of a full bangle. This design reduces the amount of gold used in making the bangle. They are cost-effective and apt for regular use (by married Bengali women).
‘Bauti’ is a Common Bengali Bangle
Pearls for Bangles:
Who knew that gold could be combined with pearls for designing bangles? Bengalis call it ‘Mantasha’ and this piece of jewellery is pricey as it includes original pearls and other precious or semi-precious stones in gold bangles. The designs are mostly intricate which is why they are worn mostly during special occasions.
Buying ‘Mantasha’ is an Expensive Affair
Gold Bangles with Cut Design:
This type of gold bangle uses a special ‘cut’ design known as ’Beloyari’ in Bengali. The bangle is called ‘Beloyari Churi’ among Bengalis. The inspiring design led to gold craftsmen in Bengal to carve gold bangles incorporating them for the women folk of this region.
‘Beloyari’ Bangles Reflect Artistic Excellence
Gold on Iron:
The Bengali tradition dictates a Hindu married woman to wear iron bangle on her ‘left’ hand. This is also believed to promote the husband’s well-being. These days gold is embedded in iron bangles know as ‘Shona Bandhano Loha’ or “Noa” in Bengali and is commonly sighted among Bengali married women as part of the ritual. This along with “Sankha” and “Pola” forms the jewellery for married Bengali ladies.
Gold ‘embedded’ Bangles offer diversity from Traditional Iron Ones
Bangles can be crafted in metals like silver and gold. Thick gold or silver bangles worn by Bengali married women are called ‘Kankan’. These are auspicious bangles that feature exquisite designs at end points.
‘Kankan’ is Auspicious for a Bengali Married Woman
Conch Shell with Gold:
‘Sannkha Pola’ are conch shell based bangles mandatory for Bengali married women to wear. These days with the modernization of the traditional conch shell bangles craftsmen have started using gold on these bangles. This new form of conch shell bangles is called ‘Shona Bandhano Sannkha-Pola’. Amazing gold designs on the conch shelled and red lac based bangles are common in Bengali weddings.
Conch Shell Bangles with Fascinating Gold Work
This ornament has its origins in the Mughal times. The traditional ‘ratnachur’ comprises of five finger rings that are attached to an armlet. The connecting area usually contains designs of lotus, sun or moon. However, women in Bengali and other Hindu marriages today use the more updated designs of this ornament.
A Modern Version of ‘Ratnachur’
The ‘Flower Motif’ Chain:
This is gold based chain which is termed as ‘Bokul Mala’ in Bengali. ‘Bokul’ is a prominent flower found in this region and this flower inspires the design of this gold chain. Married Bengali women wear this chain on regular basis.
‘Bokul Mala’ is a Usual Gold Chain Worn by Bengali Women
The ‘Menakari’ Necklace:
This necklace is made from gold but its unique feature is the use of ‘special colours’ for painting the ornament. The enamel used for colouring the gold ornament is permanent in nature and adds to the beauty of the jewellery piece. They are among the more expensive jewellery items.
‘Menakari’ Jewellery Use Colour in Gold for Added Attraction
Choker is usually a wide-neck jewellery item which features studded stones like diamonds. It is also known as ‘chik’ in the colloquial language. Craftsmen can incorporate semi-precious or precious stones to make this necklace extra glamorous. Bengali women wear such jewellery pieces to special occasions like weddings and parties.
Chokers are in Rage among Bengali Women
The ‘Muff’ Chain:
This is another jewellery belonging to the Bengali culture. It comes in length and design variety. And muff chains are mostly made from gold as Bengalis love this precious metal. This is also given to the Bengali grooms as a part of their wedding gifts.
Muff Chains are Available in Variety of Designs
‘Pancha’ or ‘Sapta Lahiri’:
This popular necklace is worn by both married and unmarried Bengali women. It includes 5-7 strands that have stones studded in them. The name ‘Sapta’ means 7 which is why this necklace is called so.
Bengal Women pair ‘Sapta Lahiri’ with Sari
Bengali Muslim women prefer to wear silver more than gold although they have no inhibitions for this metal. ‘Hunsuli’ is a popular sliver necklace that Bengali Muslim women wear these days. Fine and delicate craftsmanship is displayed through this necklace.
Muslim Women in Bengal prefer ‘Hunsuli’ over Gold
‘Mangalsutra’ for Bengalis:
Bengali Culture gives no room to the use of ‘Mangalsutra’ for married women but with the initiation of mixed marriages, this marriage symbol has gained fame among Bengali married women. They are available in various coloured stones, with the black coloured stones are predominant in any design of ‘mangalsutra’.
‘Mangalsutra’ Comes in Variety of Designs Today
Gold Based ‘Tabiz’:
Used more among the Hindus and Muslims in Bengal, this jewellery is religion-centric and is unisexual in nature. Gold and silver based ‘baju’, ‘tagaa’ and ‘tabiz’ with hollow centre are traditionally worn by both men and women in Bengal.
‘Tabiz’ is Religiously Significant Jewellery Piece
Flowers For The Ears:
Also known as ‘Phooler top’ among Bengali women, this gold based ear stud is worn by girls as well as married women in Bengal. The ear top or stud is shaped as a flower and has stone studding so that it can be teamed up with ethnic as well as western outfits. Bigger versions of this earring is called “Pasha”.
Flower Tops Makes One Appear Slimmer
Traditional Gold for Ears:
The importance of traditional earrings in gold cannot be undermined. These have intricate designs and are ideal for parties and other important occasions. This designs are mainly called “Jhumkos” in Bengali.
Traditional Gold Earrings are Engaging Jewellery Items
The term ‘kaan’ is the Bengali word for ear. This particular earring type is made out of thin layer of silver or gold in the shape of an ear. Some varieties also have precious stones embedded in them. This is also called “Kaan Bala”
‘Kaan’ Outlines the Shape of the Ears
This ornament adorns the forehead as the head displays ‘centre parting’ of the hair. It features pearl string and precious stones studded in silver or gold designs.
Bengali Women Wear ‘Tiklis’ During Marriage Ceremony
Traditional finger rings are also commonly sighted on special occasions among Bengali women. These are made from gold and other precious and semi-precious metals studded in the ring with exquisite designs.
Finger Rings Are Kept Aside for Special Occasions
The ‘Diamond’ Solitaire:
This is a more contemporary jewellery piece that Bengali married women flaunt in the present day. Solitaire is a ‘single stone’ diamond ring that is elegant and classy in its appeal.
Solitaires Display Grace and Class
‘Payels’ for Adoration:
Bengali women love to wear ‘payel’ along with ‘toe rings’. These are chains for the ankles and come in various designs and styles. Married women prefer wearing the simpler silver based ‘payels’ or anklets for their regular use. It is called “Nupur” in Bengali.
‘Payels’ Come in Exclusive Designs
Ivory Based Jewellery:
The Bengali culture promotes the use of ivory through jewellery. Bengal women wear ivory based pendants and bangles. However, they also wear other jewellery pieces made from ivory like nose rings, hair clasps, armlets, hair pins and necklaces. These ornaments are much lighter in weight and involve intricate works of the artisans.
Bengali Women Prefer Ivory for Adoring their Hair
Thus, these are the 25 essential Bengali jewellery designs that are evident among the masses of Bengal and have affected the present day Bengali woman’s lifestyle.
You can also see my favourite statement necklace here:
Which is your favourite jewellery?
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