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Home »States » Rajasthan » Gems & Jewellery

Masculine Jewellery

Sarpech Turban ornamentVanity, a love of opulence and deep aesthetic sense gave the Rajas and Ranas of Rajasthan a great fondness for jewellery. The men were as elaborately and dazzling dressed as the women, with jewelry that often rivaled that of their wives. It was a status symbol and a portable display of wealth, and consequently, power Turban jewellery was the prerogative of king, his close family or the members of his entourage (including his horse).

The turbian itself would be heavily encrusted (with jewels and fastened with a gem set kalangi or aigrette. Men also wore necklaces of pearls and precious stones, earrings, jeweled sashes around their waists and several rings on every finger. The ornament worn in front on the turban is called a sarpech. It was often extended into a golden band set with emeralds, rubies, diamonds.

Pearls were greatly valued by the Maharajas and they often wore double or triple strings of pearls with pendants of precious stones round their necks. The sashes round their waists were heavily jewelled as were the clasps or buckles of their sword belts. They wore armlets and amulets around their forearms, and their wrists strings of pearls and bracelets of gold and gems. Even the slippers of the royalty were encrusted with pearls and gems.

Emperors wore rings of diamonds emeralds, rubies and other precious stones at least one on each finger and often more. Traditionally gold is not enough on the feet since it is considered a metal of the gods, but in Rajasthan the anklet of gold worn on one or both feet by men was a sign of nobility.

Tod's Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan notes that after the siege of Chittaur, the equivalent of 170 lbs. Of gold bangles or anklets were found on the bodies of men who had fallen, all the men who wore them having been of noble blood or knights. Masculine jewellery was not confined to the articles worn on the body alone. The Rajasthani princes had gold epaulets, gem encrusted sword hilts.

Dagger sheath swords scabbards and hookah mouthpieces. Their horses were as finely bedecked as they themselves were, and it is said that the horse of Rajasthani Maharaja was worth more than our cities on account of the jewels he wore. The commoner of Rajasthan has traditional worn jewellery too, though what he wears is made from more modest metals like silver and gems are substituted by colored glass. Earrings, armlets and anklets of silver are still commonly seen adorning the rural Rajasthani male. Males also wear necklace, earnings and lucky charms, which are considered to ward off evil.

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