Tribal Jewellery from Odisha
Odisha has a rich cultural heritage that includes many diverse art forms. Tribal jewellery is one of them, which is not surprising as Odisha has more than 60 tribal communities spread out over 30 districts and 314 wards which accounts for 23% of the entire state's population. Some of the major communities are the Skandhas, Bondas, Koyas, Gadabs, Gondas, Santhals, Mundas and so on. Each of these communities has ornaments reflecting its beauty and unique socio-cultural characteristics.
Tribal jewellery is an intricate part of the community's identity and social customs. These jewellery are derivative of ancestral tradition and hold cultural significance to the men and women who wear them. For example, the aluminium neckbands of the Gadaba tribe are an indicator of married women and their married lives, and the Nose rings worn by Kondh women are believed to ward off the evil spirits. Traditionally, jewellery also served as an indicator of an individual or a family's financial status and prosperity.
Odisha's tribal jewellery ranges from earrings, hoops, ear stretchers, nose rings, septum rings, neckpieces, necklaces, waistbands, amulets, bangles, anklets, etc. In addition, the jewellery art extends to hair accessories such as hair clips, hair bands, Juda pins (pins for buns), and headbands. Various metals are used to make them, and each tribe has a different way of crafting jewellery, and the designs vary from region to region based on cultural relevance.
Nowadays, most tribal jewellery is made by a particular section of artisans, mainly found in Rayagada, Phulbani, Gajapati, Koraput, Nawangpur, and Dhenkanal districts. These artisans use aluminium, brass, copper, silver, and other locally available metals to make most of the jewellery. They also use beads, shells, and wooden pieces available around the year to make jewellery for daily use.
When artisans make jewellery out of metals such as brass, they trace the desired shape on the brass sheet using a marker. Next, they cut the desired shape using a cutter. After that, artisans begin by carving the desired design using a chisel and hammer on the brass sheet, and then they mould it with wire and other encrustments based on the required design. Later, the prepared jewellery is cleaned with a nitric acid cleaning solution and then washed with a soap nut cleaning solution.
As a result of their beauty, Odisha's tribal jewellery has been gaining more and more popularity. The vibrancy of Odisha's tribal jewellery has attracted the attention of the masses. In addition to Indian attire, they complement Indo-western attire as well. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms and are available in many metal options. They can be encrusted and wound with beads and shells too. The variety in design and materials make these pieces ideal for the demanding and evolving fashion industry of the modern era.