India's tribes are India's heritage. For it is the tribal people that have preserved ancient arts and crafts in their indigenous forms, while the rest of the country was being taken over by globalization. Ethnic tribal jewelry is one such preserved craft.
Jewelry made by India's tribes is attractive in its rustic and earthy way. Using materials available in the local area, it is crafted with the help of primitive tools. The appeal of tribal jewelry lies in its chunky, unrefined appearance.
Bone, wood, clay, shells, crude metal are some of the common raw material used in tribal jewelry. The shapes are basic.
Each tribe in India has its unique style of crafting jewelry.
Bastar : The tribes of Bastar, Madhya Pradesh make jewelry out of grass, beads and cane. Traditional ornaments made of silver, wood, glass, peacock feathers, copper and wild flowers are popular. Chains made of one-rupee coins are also worn by the Bastar women.
Banjara : The Banjara nomadic tribes of Rajasthan are known for their colorful heavy jewelry. They make beautiful ornaments and belts that are embellished with shells, metal-mesh, coins, beads, chains.
Rajasthan's silver tribal jewelry is very famous. It is a delightful collection of earrings, bracelets, bangles, amulets, anklets, hairpins and necklaces. These have a characteristic oxidized appearance. These oxidized metal accessories are often adorned with bunches of tiny silver bells and colorful stones.
Khasi, Jaintia and Garo : These tribes of Meghalaya have a unique type of jewelry: thick red coral bead necklaces of the Khasis and Jaintias, and thin fluted stems of glass strung by fine thread of the Garo tribe.
Bhutia : The Bhutia tribe of Sikkim makes jewelry of gold, silver, coral, turquoise and zee stone.
Arunachal Pradesh : This picturesque North East Indian state is famous for its tribal jewelry made of cane and bamboo. The tribes of Arunachal Pradesh also use brass, bone, ivory, silver and gold in their jewelry. In addition, colorful beads, blue feathers of birds, green wings of beetles are also used to decorate their ornaments. The Wanchos make earrings of glass beads, wild seeds, cane, bamboo and reed. The Karka Gallong women wear heavy iron rings that are coiled several times. They also adorn metal coin necklaces and waistbands of leather studded with stones.