Punjabi Jewelry: A Dazzling Legacy of Craft and Culture

by Manjari Singh

The land of Punjab, known for its vibrant folk traditions, boasts an equally rich heritage in jewelry making. Punjabi ornaments are more than just adornments; they are testaments to a land steeped in history, influenced by various empires and reflecting the enduring spirit of its people.

Punjabi jewelry is a dazzling display of diverse techniques. From the meticulous setting of uncut diamonds (polki) and colored gemstones (kundan) to the intricate gold work and the use of vibrant enamel (meenakari), each piece showcases the skills passed down through generations of artisans.

The Mughal era left an undeniable mark on Punjabi jewelry. The Mughals’ love for precious stones and elaborate designs is evident in the use of kundan and polki work, which became a signature style.

Traditionally, Punjabi jewelry served multiple purposes. Gold jewelry was not just an ornament but a form of financial security for women, especially during difficult times. Certain pieces also held symbolic significance. For instance, colorful bangles (kangan) adorned a woman’s wrists, with specific colors and numbers marking marital status and festive occasions. The delicate nose ring (nath) added a touch of elegance, while the elaborate necklaces (rani haar) were statement pieces reserved for weddings and grand celebrations.

Some enduring favorites include the maang tikka, a head ornament often featuring a central pendant, and the jhumkis, beautiful earrings that sway with movement. Tiklis, intricately designed chains for the forehead, and kamarbandhs, embellished waist belts, add a touch of glamour.

Today, Punjabi jewelry continues to evolve. While traditional designs remain cherished, modern artisans are incorporating contemporary influences. The use of lighter materials and contemporary aesthetics ensures the legacy continues to resonate with younger generations.

Punjabi jewelry is more than just sparkling stones and gleaming gold. It’s a cultural tapestry woven with artistry, heritage, and the enduring traditions of a vibrant land. So, the next time you see a piece of Punjabi jewelry, take a moment to appreciate the centuries of history and cultural pride it embodies.

Manjari Singh

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