The World of South Indian Jewellery

India has always been fascinated with jewellery, and has always had expert kaarigars (artisans/craftsmen) in the crafts of making the delicate metal embedded with stones in various intricate designs. South Indian jewellery has a charm of its own. From Temple Jewellery, to the famous Hyderabadi pearls, we have a lot to offer. While gold is a favourite, pearls and diamonds are not far behind.

The Vanki, or armlet of South India, is inlaid with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, set in gold. The Vanki of South India is unique because of its inverted-V-shaped design. From old paintings and sculptures, its origin can be traced to the Naga or snake worship. Some of the earliest Vankis can be seen on figures of Lord Krishna as a child, the more ancient figures in wood and stones have a hooded cobra crowning the ornament. The shape of the Vanki is such that it fits over the arm without any strain or pressure.

Linga Padakka Muthu Malai
Linga Padakka Muthu Malai (a garland of pearls with a Lingam pendant) from Tamil Nadu, has rows of pearls that end in a pendant in which the Lingam, the symbol of Shiva, is shaped out of an emerald and set in an elaborate encrusted base supported by two bejewelled peacocks. It was believed in ancient India that flawless pearls prevented misfortune and were therefore favourites with kings. South India has been famous for its pearls and pearl necklaces with elaborate pendants were seen in plenty in the medieval courts of Vijayanagar and Thanjavur.

Oddayanam (Vaddyanam)
The gold Oddayanam or waist ornament of South India is encrusted with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Peacocks, flowers, buds and leaves intermingle creating a perfect symmetry. Although the purpose of the Oddyanam was supposedly to hold up the saree, actually, like the binding of feet in the Far East, it served the additional purpose of keeping the waist slim, as the breath is drawn in before the belt-clasp was fastened. The tight belt around the waist further accentuated the hips of the wearer.

The Jadanagam or, literally, the hair-serpent, is worn by brides to decorate braided hair. The rakkadi at the back of the head in the shape of the sun, symbol of brilliance and power is followed by the crescent moon, representing calm and peace. Designed in the form of flowers and buds, it has separate pieces intertwined to make for easy and comfortable wearing. This bridal jewel was also adopted by temple dancers, who considered themselves the brides of the temple deity.

This unusual anklet originates from Hyderabad. Loose chain links the uncut diamonds set in gold in Kundan setting, lying closely over the foot yet loosely. There are stone drops on the lower edge of the Paizeb in place of bells. Its unique nature is the use of gold and not silver as is traditionally done across the country. A gorgeous collection of Paizeb was included in the Nizam’s collection.

Translating to seven strings of pearls, this form of necklace was made popular by the last Nizam of Hyderabad- Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan. He sourced pearls from Basra, Iran and had the kaarigars in Hyderabad make an intricate necklace for him. This became rather popular with jewellers and today stands as a jewellery design by itself.

We have these and many more such south Indian charming ornaments at our stores across Hyderabad.