Jewellery of West Bengal

Gold, precious stones, silver, brass and zinc alloys are the main metals used in the making of jewellery in West Bengal. Swankars, the caste involved in jewellery making, make jewellery for the affluent higher class as well as the traditional tribal ornament typical of the State of West Bengal. Rose water sprinkle , pendans, brooches, armlets, hair pins etc are some of the examples of good and unique craftmenship of Bengal.

There is a lot of similarity in the filigree work of the Maukhali area of Bengal with that of the type found in Orrisa. Both techniques, kundan setting of uncut gems as well as the open claw setting of multifaceted gems, are practiced today alongwith an European influence of high tech sophisticated gadgetry used for polishing and cutting.

The trend these days is for lighter ornaments and intricate work which demands a lot skill from the craftsmen. Tribal designs are still preferred as they still retain the essentials of traditional jewellery and also enable the costumes to gel with accessories of hair clasps, hair pins, necklaces and nose rings.

Tikli, a traditional West Bengal forehead ornament worn by Bengali brides on the central parting of her hair, are laced with a string of pearls and studded with a precious stone or beautiful gold or silver design incorporated with excellent craftsmanship.

Kaan which is a traditional ornament worn on the ear is made up of thin sheets of gold or silver that cover the entire ear. It embedded with precious stones and is worn on special occasions.

Chik or a gold choker almost an inch wide and studded with diamonds or precious stones is worn around the neck during traditional gatherings and social occasions. A necklace having five to seven strands of precious stones or beads is known as a Pancha or Sapta lahiri.

Hunsuli, traditionally worn by Muslim women, is being worn by several women of West Bengal now. It is made in finely crafted silver and is worn snugly around the neck.

Baju, tabiz or tagaa are the traditional ornaments worn around the arm which are delicate hollow bangles expertly crafted in gold or silver.

Choories or bangles, the ornaments worn around the wrists are of many designs and are mainly crafted in gold or silver. Married Bengali women wear bangles made of conch shell followed by iron ones symbolizing married status which is then followed by a kankan or a thick gold or silver bangle is considered auspicious and has filigreed decorations.Kankan is considered auspicious because of the makara pair or the mythical crocodile heads at the ending point of the circle.

Chur is an bracelate which is in pure gold and can be traced in the olden paintings and sculptures.

Ratanchur is made in gold and silver and has its origin from the Mughal culture. It begins from five fingers followed in each hand and thumb and ratanchur has five chains attached to each ring .Many of these have decorated moon, lotus and sun at the back of the hand. The jewelers take proper care in making each item.

Mantasha is an elegant Bengali bangle embedded with precious stones and pure pearls. Married ladies are seen wearing toe rings accompanied by plain or designed chains on their ankles having small bells hanging. These are called payals and are also worn by the spinsters.