TEMPLE JEWELRYIndian Jewelry art is mostly divided into three kinds - temple jewelry, spiritual jewelry and bridal jewelry. Temple jewelry of India initially was described in the manner as the jewelry used to adorn the idols of Gods and Goddesses. The statues or idols in India were ornamented with chunky necklaces that were either strung with beads or crafted with intricate filigree. Amongst the other ornaments which adorned statues of deities were large chunky bangles, usually studded with gems. In addition, earrings, nose rings and anklets were also used.
The jewelry used to adorn the idols were later worn by temple dancers and slowly, the designs became a part of the Indian woman's bridal jewelry trousseau. Today, temple jewelry has become one of the most popular among the crafts of India.
During the festival occasions of worship of Gods, women wear temple jewelry, believed to be auspicious and offer good luck. Jewelry items come in different varieties like pendants, bracelets, belts and brooches. Temple jewelry is very popular amongst women, during auspicious times, and wearing these is believed to bring fortuity to the person. The favorite design for pendants is that of Lord Ganesha - the elephant headed god known to bestow good luck and good fortune. The other emblem, which is also, very much in demand, is that of the sacred syllable "OM". These days, the temple jewelry of India is finding a flavor amongst foreigners too.
In India especially the South Indian temples preserve a large variety of jewelries and even the foreign invasion could not make much loss to them. Most of the jewelries here were donated by the people to adorn the deities of the temples. In South India, the Saivite temple jewelries are categorized into two: The jewelries which are offered to the main 'Sivalinga' and those which are offered to the subsidiary gods and goddesses.
The main 'Sivalinga' of any temple in South Indian is adorned with many costly jewels like necklaces, bracelets, armlets, bangles, rings and other ornaments.
Thousands of pearls are embedded in the costliest jewelries of the Sivalinga. During the rein of Chola dynasty, the South Indian temples have contributed a lot in the growth of the art of jewel making. The temples in South India even maintained their own workshops, employed very much skilled goldsmiths and jewellers to fashion jewels, to test the jewels and evaluate them whenever it is required.
The master craftsmen were also been appointed and granted many royal titles on them for their mastery and excellence in the art. Till today much costly jewelries are still well preserved in the Madurai temple. The most significant jewels among them are the crowns made of gold and encrusted with the nine gems or navaratna. A very important jewelry of most of the temples is the 'Ratnachurmmandu', a golden jeweled turban. It is mostly worn on one of the festivals of Lord Sundaresvara, who is supposed to have worked as a casual labourer and carried the mud on his head on behalf of an old lady. During the rule of Vijayanagar kings, the heights of pomp and lavishness in offerings reached to the peak particularly at the time of Krishnadeva Raya.
Temple jewellery which classical and traditional look is commonly associated with dancers practicing the dance form of Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi. Temple jewellery is characterised by some of the finest handwork, painfully crafted by skilled craftsmen and jewellers. 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. From earrings to necklaces to pieces for adorning the hair, feet, hip and even the plaint.
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 specialised 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.