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Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Of Human Bondage – The Chains of Marriage

 

Marriage with its Emotional Bondage* that is Voluntary & Reciprocal can be a beautiful experience.

In the Hindu tradition, this bondage is poignantly represented by the Gold Chain that the groom ties onto the bride on day of  marriage – the Mangalsutra.

Naturally, there are as many different types of wedding chains or Mangalsutra, as there are state-wise & caste-wise communities amongst Hindus. These variations came about more out of artistic preferences & locally available materials. Today we also see nuances & interpretations of the unique materials used by each sub-group.

A few community-specific pieces:

The common Vati Mangalsutra of Maharashtra

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The Powala Putali Mangalsutra of Maharashtra: The coins are embossed with the  image of Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth.

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The Goan Mangalsutra with the Green Pedro Stone (worn by the Christians who had converted from Hindu but held on to some previously held traditions and modified them)

Antique Gold Mangalsutra Jewelry Antique Gold Mangalsutra Jewelry Antique Gold Mangalsutra Jewelry

 

The Magnificent Tamil Thali that is as large as my palm:Antique Gold Mangalsutra Jewelry

chettiar-tali

 

The pretty Kolhapuri Saj Mangalsutra – worn my Muslim women. As people live together, traditions & lifestyles also mix.

Antique Kolhapuri Saj Mangalsutra(better picture to follow soon)

The Saraswat Brahmin Mangalsutra: The central Gold Box made of solid gold, 2 black beads and at least 12 coral beads are essential in this type.

mangalasutraRS-600x352

A few folk-traditions about Mangalsutras:

– At the time of the wedding the girl receives her share of the parental family wealth through the gold she receives. Most of her jewels are gifts from her own parents (the dowry – a beautiful concept that has been abused equally by society and media) but the Mangalsutra is always given by the groom’s family.

– In some communities it is worn inside out until the marriage is consummated

– In other communities the mangalsutra is concealed so that when two women meet their mangalsutras do not come into each others view and pass on any negative / bad luck.

– Some communities repeat the marriage rites along with the presentation of one more mangalsutra when the groom is 60 years old.

– The mangalsutra was the primary sign of marital status in most communties but several other signs: bangles, toerings, anklets, bindis were all mandatory. In some communities, the primary jewel is the bangle and not there is no Mangalsutra concept at all.

– Traditional women wear this particular ornament with great pride and enjoy showing off this public display of belonging to their man. In the modern  / urban / corporate world however, many Indian women are giving up this tradition with the view that “men-don’t-wear-any-sign-of-marriage so-why-should-we”.  Maybe the solution lies not in giving up this gorgeous & meaningful piece of jewelry but rather in creating a parallel tradition for men!

***

More images to follow as and when I come across examples from other communties! If you know of any others, please do add contribute to this thread!

 

jaina mishra

Aug 2014

 

Title courtesy:  Somerset Maugham

(*No doubt marriage can be liberating too but right now this piece is about the bondage)

One comment on “Of Human Bondage – The Chains of Marriage

  1. ru
    February 20, 2016

    U missed the bombay east indian’poth’

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2014 by in Culture Kaleidoscope and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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