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Bharatanatyam, the ancient and graceful dance form originating from the temples of South India, is not just about precise footwork and expressive gestures. It is a celebration of tradition, culture, and artistry that extends to every aspect of a dancer's attire, including the intricate jewellery worn during performances.

Understanding the Traditional Bharatanatyam Jewellery Sets

The jewellery worn in Bharatanatyam serves multiple purposes beyond adornment. Each piece has cultural significance and contributes to the overall aesthetic of the dance. Here’s a breakdown of the essential components:

  1. Headpiece (Nethi Chutti or Maang Tikka):

    • Positioned at the center of the hairline, the Nethi Chutti enhances the facial features of the dancer. Traditionally, it is adorned with intricate designs and often studded with precious stones like rubies or emeralds.
  2. Earrings (Jhumkas):

    • Bharatanatyam earrings, known as Jhumkas, are large and bell-shaped, designed to sway gracefully with the movements of the dancer. They are typically embellished with pearls, gemstones, or intricate metalwork.
  3. Necklace (Short and Long):

    • The short necklace (Choker) rests close to the neck, accentuating the dancer's movements and posture. It is often adorned with motifs from Hindu mythology or geometric designs. The longer necklace (Oddiyanam) sits on the waist and is characterized by its elaborate detailing.
  4. Waist Belt (Vaddanam or Oddiyanam):

    • The Vaddanam or Oddiyanam is a broad waist belt worn around the hips. It not only emphasizes the dancer’s waist movements but also adds a regal touch to the costume. This piece is intricately crafted with motifs of peacocks, swans, or other traditional designs.
  5. Arm Bands (Vanki):

    • Arm bands, known as Vanki, are worn on the upper arms to highlight the movements of the dancer’s arms and hands. They are usually embellished with stones and may feature motifs of serpents or floral patterns.
  6. Anklets (Salangai):

    • Salangai, or ankle bells, are an essential part of Bharatanatyam jewellery. They produce rhythmic sounds that complement the footwork of the dancer, adding an auditory dimension to the performance.

Varieties of Bharatanatyam Jewellery Sets

  1. Original Temple Jewellery:

    • Authentic temple jewellery is handcrafted using traditional techniques passed down through generations. It is usually made of gold and adorned with intricate motifs inspired by temple architecture and mythology.
  2. Margam Jewellery:

    • Margam jewellery refers to pieces that are specifically designed for Bharatanatyam performances. These sets often slightly heavier than the original temple jewellery, crafted to facilitate ease of movement without compromising on aesthetic appeal.
  3. Imitation Jewellery:

    • Imitation Bharatanatyam jewellery is crafted using non-precious metals and materials, designed to mimic the look of traditional gold jewellery. It offers an affordable alternative while still capturing the essence of authentic designs.

Choosing the Perfect Jewellery Set

When selecting jewellery for Bharatanatyam, consider the following:

  • Materials and Craftsmanship: Opt for high-quality materials and craftsmanship that reflect the authenticity and cultural significance of Bharatanatyam.

  • Designs and Aesthetics: Choose jewellery that complements the dancer’s costume and enhances the overall visual impact of the performance.

  • Comfort and Durability: Ensure that the jewellery is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and durable enough to withstand rigorous dance movements.

  • Authenticity vs. Affordability: Balance your preference for authentic temple jewellery with practical considerations such as budget and ease of maintenance.

Where to Find Bharatanatyam Jewellery

Authentic Bharatanatyam jewellery sets can be found at specialized stores, both online and offline, that cater to dancers and aficionados of Indian classical arts. These stores often offer a range of options including original temple jewellery, margam jewellery, and imitation jewellery to suit different preferences and budgets.

Conclusion

Bharatanatyam jewellery is an integral part of the dance form’s rich heritage, adding elegance, symbolism, and cultural depth to every performance. Whether you choose original temple jewellery for its craftsmanship and tradition, margam jewellery for its dance-friendly designs, or imitation jewellery for affordability, each piece contributes to the captivating allure of Bharatanatyam.

By understanding the nuances of Bharatanatyam jewellery and selecting pieces that resonate with the artistry and grace of the dance, dancers and enthusiasts alike can continue to celebrate and preserve this timeless cultural tradition.

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