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
Address :
Date Visited: Wed Jun 12 2013 20:08:41 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Up-to-date reports by Indian journalists and commentators

To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>

Search tips

Combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community.

Add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

Specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, Himalayan tribe, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

For official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region: e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

In case the Google Custom Search window is not displayed here try the following: (1) toggle between “Reader” and regular viewing; (2) in your browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript” | More tips >>

See also

Adverse inclusion | Casteism | Rural poverty


Crafts and visual arts

Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India (Census figures 2011)

Denotified Tribes, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes – Report and Recommendations (Technical Advisory Group)

Fact checking | Figures, census and other statistics

Human Rights Commission (posts) | (Government of India)

Imprisonment & rehabilitation

Search tips | Names of tribal communities, regions and states of India

State wise population of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and their percentage to the total population in the respective states and to the total STs population

“What are the Rights of Scheduled Tribes? – Government of India (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, NCST)

“What is the Forest Rights Act about?” – Campaign for Survival and Dignity

“Who are Scheduled Tribes?” – Government of India (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, NCST)