photo courtesy Jon Wason
What are the most traditional bridal jewelries in Europe and America? A tiara, a pearl necklace, maybe a bracelet, but of course, the most important of all, a wedding ring, a symbol of eternity, union and completeness as well as an emblem of strength and protection. But it is not so everywhere. In other countries there are other important bridal jewelries that every bride is supposed to wear on her big day to ensure the success of her marriage.
photo courtesy Charnette Banck
For a Newari bride from Nepal the primary ornament in the wedding ceremony is the tayo necklace. Traditionally it should be made of high karat gold but for the poorer families it may be made from gilded copper. The main element of the tayo is a hollow lozenge-shaped pendant connected to the necklace with two mirror-image comma shapes, often set with turquoise. It is a powerful sacred ornament. Another essential jewelry for a Newari bride is a head ornament lunya swan. It is disk-shaped and composed of numerous floral and foliate elements. Lunya swan is worn like a hat on the head. Its average size is between 15-20 cm in diameter though pieces of 30 cm can also be found.
For the brides of Minangkabau in West Sumatra wearing gold bracelets, necklaces, belts and pins is not only a sign of wealth but a tribute to old tradition. Sumatra since ancient times was famous for the quality of its gold that was very important in the economy of the kingdom. To honour the metal the Minangkabau king took the title "Lord of the Land of Gold" and all the brides had to have gold present in their wedding costume and decorations. Among all those numerous ornaments there is one of major importance - the suntiang, a diadem adorned with golden ornaments in the form of flowers, birds and stars, arranged like a peacock's tail. To make the suntiang wires are bent into shape to fit the head; other wires are then attached vertically. The biggest suntiang have 25 wires; the next size down has 23 wires. Headdresses with 21 wires are the most commonly used nowadays. The suntiang weighs 4-5 kg and a bride can neither turn nor lower her head and has to remain motionless for hours.
For the bride from the Fassi community of Morocco pearls are the gemstones of the day. Their shiny surface is considered to provide a defense against the evil eye and so the vital parts of the bride's body are literally covered with them: they frame the face, adorn the hairline, cover the upper bust.
photo courtesy Lois Bridenback
On the head the bride wears a gold diadem decorated with precious stones (usually emeralds) surrounded by (again) pearls.
photo from here
Berber brides of the North Africa wear heavy, twelve-pronged silver bracelets. Their ring-like shape symbolizes the female sex, and the lunar metal is supposed to protect the wearer from bad luck.
A necklace of large amber balls separated by alternate cloth discs is another important jewelry for the Berber bride. Amber is appreciated by the Berbers for their magic powers and medicinal properties. It is a symbol of sweetness and both gives a powerful protection against bad luck and attracts good luck.
photo courtesy Yair Yehuda
A Jewish Yemenite bride is bedecked with jewelry during wedding ceremony. Her chest is completely covered with rows of necklaces made of silver and coral beads, amulet cases and silver bells. Her arms are adorned with filigree bracelets arranged in a specific order, and her fingers bear as many as twenty rings.
photo from here
The towering pearl-embroidered headgear is framed by fresh flowers and branches of basil and rue that are believed to bring luck and avert the evil eye.
photo courtesy Sumeet Moghe
One of the major rituals of the Indian Hindu wedding is beautification of the bride with sixteen adornments known as the Sola Sringar. Among the "must have" adornments are bangles, a forehead jewelry mang tikka, a nose ring, necklaces. But the most important part of the bridal jewelry is mangalsutra. It is a sacred thread of black beads with a gold or diamond pendant which is tied by the groom around the bride's neck during the wedding rituals. The black beads are believed to protect against evil. The mangalsutra symbolizes the inseparable bond between husband and wife and is worn by the married Hindu women throughout their lives.
Personally my favourite is the choti, an ornament for braid decoration. It is a long jewel worn along the length of the braid, from top to the very end. To wear this decoration a bride must have really long hair (though nowadays extensions may be used).
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