"I do believe in a certain amount of things that you put on everyday that make you feel that you're you, that are part of you."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Art of Embellishment
When it comes to jewelry, there's no competing with India. The citizens of India take jewelry wearing to a whole new level adorning themselves in intricately designed gold bangles, colorful beaded necklaces, beautifully carved stone rings, out of this world chandelier earrings, nose rings, nose rings that attach to earrings, anklets, toe rings, toe rings that attach to anklets, head pieces, and so much more. To them, there isn't any part of the body where jewelry can't be applied. What makes Indian jewelry so unique is that it goes beyond the normal function of an accessory; it's a historical relic that represents India's long-standing cultural unity and that unity is brought about by religion. If you take a look at Ganesh or Shiva or any other Hindu god a majority of them are wearing loads of lavish jewelry all over their bodies. In the past Indian kings wanted to appear godlike to their people so they would emulate such gods by embellishing themselves accordingly. This profession of religious loyalty has overtime become a cultural statement that's known world-wide as part of India's signature style. Without such embellishment India's definition of style and glamour wouldn't be so unique. Who knew that something as simple as a bangle would have the ability to define an entire country?
I think the best display of embellishment is seen in Indian weddings where the bride is literally dripping in jewelry. Are you allowed to have an Indian wedding if you're not Indian?
I was fortunate enough to visit India in high school with a group of students and I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life. I highly recommend putting India on your list of places to travel throughout your lifetime. It's one of if not the most beautiful culture in the world and the jewelry is definitely a reflection of that. Although I didn't necessarily come back with something as impressive as a kundan jewelry set I did manage to get a few goodies as well as a very enviable scarf collection if I do say so myself.
My most prized possessions from the trip?
Tashi the bull
My Gigantic Religious Beads
& My wooden elephant jewelry box
Some info about shopping in India:
1. All the big cities are good places for getting the basic souvenirs such as quality religious beads, toy elephants, etc. but BE SURE TO SHOP AROUND because the next shop will most likely have what you want in either a better quality or price or both then the shop you first stopped at.
2. BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN. Not only is it fun but you'd be surprised at how open the locals are to lowering their prices, I certainly was. If they don't budge at first that's okay just try again, keep talking. By doing that it will show them that you're not going to budge which in turn will raise the likelihood of them lowering the prices. Remember, they want to make a sale just as much as you want a deal so they are willing to work with you even though it might initially come off otherwise.
3. Although things are VERY cheap in India it doesn't always mean that what you're getting is the real deal. For example, I bought a "turquoise bracelet" for a thousand rupees and later found out it wasn't turquoise but my friend actually got a real turquoise necklace for 750 rupees. Don't rely on the price to tell you if what you're getting is or that.
4. The best place for silks is Varanasi. Another great city to shop is Dharamsala. A lot of Tibetan refugees live there and for a living most of them own and operate their own shop. Most of these shops carry a lot of hand made products either made by the shop owner themselves or affiliates of the shop owner. These products can range from clothes to comforters. Really beautiful stuff.