Marilyn Monroe may have strutted down a white staircase in a hot pink gown to proclaim ‘DIAMONDS’ are a girl’s best friend in 1949 but India’s torrid love affair with jewellery had been ongoing for centuries before that declaration. The tradition of adorning oneself with jewellery is as old as that Indian civilisation itself, as women and men (yes, you read that right) wore their jewels with pride as a display of wealth, power and social status. An Indian bride’s ensemble is incomplete without her jewellery that is not just for adornment but also an intrinsic element of the rituals and ceremonies. The most striking part of all bridal finery is the Indian head jewellery, which is indicative of her cultural heritage, caste and community.
The evolution of Indian head jewellery is interspersed with the history of the country and its multitude of rulers. With the advent of the Mughal rule there came about a synthesis in Hindu and Muslim forms and patterns resulting in a great outburst of ornamentation and lush extravagance that was never seen before. The era caused a jewellery revolution of sorts giving way to exquisite new forms and shapes in the sphere of Indian head jewellery. The jhumar headpiece that was exclusively a Muslim bride’s ornament found acceptance amongst Hindu royalty and slowly trickled down to the masses.
Today the convergence of Indian head jewellery has become so fluid that women are embracing the ornament and pairing it with ethnic as well as western clothing. The evolution of Indian head jewellery into modern, streamlined and minimalistic designs to suit more contemporary dressing is a testament to its ability to transform any woman’s features and enhance her beauty. Any piece of jewellery that can be styled to create several different looks makes it not only coveted and treasured but also undeniably classic. From Kim Kardashian West and Nicole Richie in Hollywood to Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt in Bollywood the Indian head jewellery trend is making waves all over the world. In an effort to make it easier to get your hands on these artistic and versatile baubles we’ve broken down the kinds of Indian head jewellery into three categories: Maang Tikkas, Jhumars or Passas and Hair Chains.
This Indian head jewellery features a single metal chain attached to a broad metal piece of varying shapes and sizes. Usually worn with hair parted in the middle to show off the chain, it can also be worn with side-parted hair to emphasise the elaborate craftsmanship of the metal piece. Maang Tikkas are the most common style of Indian head jewellery owing to their ability to adapt to nearly all facial features.
The slightly more flamboyant cousin of the Maang Tikka is the Jhumar or Passa. This Indian head jewellery comprises of a wide embellished metal piece suspended with a few chains that are held together with a hook or clip on the other end.
Jhumars or Passas must be worn on the left side of the head either with or without the Maang Tikka depending on ostentation of both ornaments. While these can be styled with both ethnic and western outfits their styling makes Jhumars and Passas elegant and more appropriate accessories with the former rather than latter.
It’s not surprising that the Indian head jewellery variant that took the fashion world by a storm is also the most elaborate and versatile. Hair chains have emerged as the festival favourite accessory of the past few years. Comprising of several embellished metals chains that are layered all over the head and finished off with a metal centrepiece, hair chains are a bling loving fashionista’s delight. This Indian head jewellery can be styled with lehengas, saris or anarkalis for a conventional look or with flowy maxy dresses, high-low skirts and shorts and cami tops for avant-garde perfection.