Jewellery of Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, jewellery is worn as a tradition and everyone is seen wearing some ornament or the oter. The ancient jewellery making tradition of this region speaks of a high degree of excellence and worksmanship. Gold is considered auspicious and good for health. It is made into ornaments for every part of the body except the feet, where it is worn only by gods and kings. The traditional bridal jewellery, set with stones and known as thalaisaamaan, is worn on the head and hair by devadaasis/temple dancers who were considered wedded to the deity and as such came to be called temple jewellery.

The ornaments shaped like the sun and moon are set with rubies interspersed with emeralds and uncut diamond and are worn on the parting of the hair along the forehead. Behind the hair decoration is worn the raakkodi or naagar, a stone-encrusted piece shaped like a five-headed snake with a swan in the centre. Below this, set in stones (rubies and diamonds), is the hairpiece or jadanaagam that follows the shape of the plaited hair in an intertwined design.

Older women in rural areas wear heavy gold ornamented ear jewelry called paambadam made of six earrings. Ear studs can be kadukkan (single-stone), kammal (lotus-shaped with rubies or diamonds), jimikki (bell-shaped ear-drops), lolaakku ( ear-drops of any design) or maattal which is made of gold or pearls and is hooked to the earring and then attached to the hair above the ear.

Ornaments for the nose include the single stoned mookkupottu or the besari and muthu studded with eight diamonds or the swan shaped hamsa besari, all of which are worn suspended from the central part of the nose.

Mangalsutra is the main neck ornament that is worn on an auspicious thread or on a gold chain. The pendant on the Mangalsutra indicates the community of the wearer";" it could be shaped like a tulsi (holy basil plant), the conch and discus of Vishnu or it could be heavily stone-studded as worn by Chettinad women. The other varieties of neckwear include necklaces and chains made of rubies and emeralds.

Vanki, an upper arm ornament, is usually intertwined in shape with a stone-inlaid piece set in gold.

Oddiyaanam is a gold or silver belt worn tightly around the waist with stone-encrusted centres. Anklets of various types like the ganja golusu (heavy variety with bells that tinkle), thandai (stiff anklets with bells that tinkle) and kaal kaappu (worn mainly by children and believed to protect their ankles) are worn on each leg above the feet.

Huge, heavy and intricately carved ornaments by tribes in Tamil Nadu like the Todas, Badagas, Kotas of the Nilgiri district are made mainly in silver. Toda jewel pieces are made of bent wires and shells.