The style of jewelry called “temple jewelry” this is a unique style of jewelry making that is native to Southern India.Classical and traditional in its appearance, temple jewellery is commonly associated with dancers practicing the dance form of Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi. Many of the designs are inspired from the stone carvings in various temples all around southern India. Jewelry in this style has adorned the deities in the temples of Tamil Nadu, for over hundreds of years.Initially the jewelry was created as offerings to the gods and godesses.Later the temple dancers ,devdasis, wore the jewelry.
Temple Jewelry is made with uncut rubies (pucchakallu), emeralds, uncut diamonds (param), pearls, sapphire and other precious stones with the foundation in gold.
From earrings to necklaces to pieces for adorning the hair, feet, hip and even the plait,Temple Jewelry comprises of the following:
- Thalaisaamaan -Matha Patti.Thalaisaamaan is a three sided ornament worn on the hair. One central side is worn on the parting of the hair and other two sides are tied along the hairline on the forehead.
- Nethi-chutti:Maang Tikka
- Surya and Chandran are two broach like ornaments that symbolize sun and moon and are worn to the left and right of the parting of the hair to invoke the blessings of the dieties -sun for good health,brilliance and power and moon for romance and peace.
- Rakkodi:Circular adornment for the back of the head/(JuraPin Round)
- Billai:Ornament for braid decoration/choti
- Attigai:Short Choker necklace
- Magari Maalai:Long pearl necklace with Padakkam/pendant designed with red,green stones and pearls with peacock or floral motifs and set in half moon shape.
- Arum:Long Gold Necklace
- Jimiki:Detachable bell-shaped ear jewel with pearls
- Mattal:Ear chain/kaan chain
- Thodu:Nakshatra design seven stone stud earrings
- Mookuthi, Nathu and Bullaku:Nose jewelry
- Odiyanam: Waist Belt
- Kunjalam:Plait ends/Paranda.Kunjalam is worn at the end of the braid and it adds character to the it.Usually Kunjalam has long strands at the end with gold plated, cone shaped cover at the top.
- Salangai:Dancing Bells/Ghungroo
- Veni:Semicircle garland of flowers round the bun or plait of hair/Gajara
Temple jewellery is characterized by some of the finest handwork, painfully crafted by skilled craftsmen and jewelers. Due to the finesse required in crafting it, the time required to deliver the jewellery may sometimes even go up to a year, depending on the number of pieces required. But one sight at the final product and most of customers will forget the agony of their wait.
The temple jewellery that is custom-made, according to the measurements of the customer, is surely an enviable possession.The price range could be anywhere between Rs. 80,000 for a pair of jhumkas (earrings) to several lakhs for necklaces and other specialized items. A set for a dancer, meeting all her requirements for the perfect adornment could be between Rs. 8,00,000 to Rs. 15,00,000.The reason for the expensive nature of temple jewellery is obviously the making charge, which itself is almost one-third of the total cost.Even today, the original temple jewellery is made only by certain craftsmen, who have to follow stringent requirements during the course of making it, like maintaining a cool temperature (as heat could damage the delicate gold threading), total concentration on each set due to the intricacy involved (which means taking up only one order at a time), and so on.
Temple jewelry is mostly made by goldsmiths located at Malaypore and Nagercoil in Tamilnadu.