Silver had precedence over gold to maintain class equality within the tribe: Kolam and Gond Jewellery becoming obsolete – Andhra Pradesh

The ethnic people of Adilabad no longer wear all their traditional silver even when the occasion calls for it. The continuing change in the lifestyle of the tribal population, especially the one impacting its sartorial customs, has rendered obsolete wearing of heavy jewellery by women.

As more and more women from Gond, Kolam and other tribes prefer wearing the regular sari instead of the traditional ‘nau var dakdi’, the use of ethnic ornaments has decreased. Sleeved blouses or Punjabi suits leave little scope for the woman to sport heavy, yet artistic jewellery.

The Rajgonds of Adilabad had a whole system going with respect to philosophy, design and making of silver jewellery until a few decades ago.

Those who have closely studied the life of tribal people, like Kala Ratna award winner and founder of Adilabad’s Kala Ashram Guruji Ravinder Sharma, opine that silver was given precedence over gold to maintain class equality within the tribe.

Ethnic designs

The tribe had its own groups of goldsmiths who specialised in making silver jewellery as per the ethnic designs. Though men sported only a few items, women normally wore jewellery made with over 2 kg of silver.

Guruji, who has a collection of tribal jewellery at the Kala Ashram recalls, “The sari and Sakri, heavy rounded bands worn around the neck by women weighed about half-a-kilogram while the ‘panjan’ or anklet weighed quarter of a kg each.

The ‘kambar pati’ or waist band weighed about 1 kg while the arm bands or ‘dand kadias’ weighed 250 gm each.”

Until not long ago, tribal families used to obtain silver from artisans who came looking for horns of wild animals and cattle skin. The Bangadgiri artisans required horns of dead animals to make bangles and the cobbler community needed the skin to make footwear.

Medicine men

“There were groups of medicine men from the neighbouring Karimnagar who too paid in kind for the aromatic grass and its oil to the Gond families. These groups no longer come to Adilabad and neither are the ‘tribal’ goldsmiths located Kerameri, Indani, Wankidi or the Otaris of Bodhdi functional,” says Guruji.

Source: “Heavy jewellery out of fashion for tribals” by S. Harpal Singh, The Hindu, 14 February 2013
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Date Visited: Wed Jun 12 2013 20:08:41 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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