Arunachal Pradesh is known for its exquisitely crafted ornaments made from silver, gold, brass, shells, wild seeds, glass, stone or even cane beads. There are around 20 major tribes and many more sub-tribes in the State, all with their own distinctive style of jewelry. Next time you wish to hunt for tribal jewelry, you know where to look!
Beautiful beaded ornaments find favour with the women of Arunachal who string them to make necklaces, earrings, bracelets, armlets, and many other such items. Beads are of eclectic colours and sizes and draw inspiration from nature; the blue feathered wings of birds or green wings of beetles are often used to add beauty to an ornament. While some prefer to wear a simple beaded necklace around their neck, others string hues of different beads into attractive patterns. Some of the designs and colour combinations are almost too beautiful to be true.
Shell necklaces aisheri worn by Adi women are regarded sacred and more valuable than other ornaments because they are handed down from mother to daughter through many generations. Ear plugs worn by Gallong women are made of leaf, wood and bamboo, as the the earrings are heavy because they are made of iron. The rings are coiled into several turns. Sometimes the women who wear them have their ear lobes slashed, due to their heavy weight. Bead necklaces are worn by both men and women alike. When the ear lobes are slashed, the rings are hung from a string below the ear lobe. Sometimes the bead necklaces that are worn are so heavy and numerous that they cover the breasts without the help of any clothes. Brass wristlets are common and three to eight wristlets with increasing circumference are worn from wrist to elbow.
Another ornament that is popular is a leather waistband studded with stones ranging from big stones in the front and smaller ones at the back. This kind of waistband generally contains around 100-150 stones. Necklaces are also made from one rupee, eight anna, and four anna coins; the coins are pierced together with hooks and hung from a string. Iron disks varying in number fastened together with a cane string or thread is also a popular choice.
By Payel Bhattacharjee