Nepalese ethnic jewelry: necklaces

 Newari girl wearing tikma necklace

The most popular necklace in Nepal is pote. It is made of strands of glass beads and generally worn on a regular basis as a symbol of marriage. It fulfills the same function as a ring in the Western world. Sometimes the potes are thicker multi-strand necklaces, and sometimes they are long single strand necklaces. If a gold pendant is added to the pote then the necklace is called tilhari. The pendant consists of seven horizontally arranged gold or silver beads. Brahman or Chetri women wear small tilhari of two to five cm in length. In other areas of Nepal tilhari may be as large as 15 cm.

Nau gedi necklace. Photo source

Another necklace that almost all groups all over Nepal wear is a large, silver bead necklace called nau gedi. It usually consists of nine (sometimes twelve to twenty) beads and a center pendant in the shape of a bell, all filled with pitch.

Tamang woman wearing a necklace of turquoise-coral-amber-dzi stones and a coin necklace

Coin necklaces are still can bee seen worn by many groups, especially in Western Nepal. They are called rupiya mala and Indian or Chinese silver coins mostly are used in them. Such necklaces serve both as indicators of wealth and as charms to attract money. They can fall to the waist and many are as short as a choker. A coin can also be a centerpiece of a multi-coloured glass beads necklace.

Woman from Humla wearing rupiya mala coin necklace, protective cowrie shells necklace, pote and glass beads jaale chocker. Photo courtesy Nirjana Sharma

One of the noticeable necklaces of the Newars is tikma. It consists of a number of repousse-worked metal plaques sewn on fabric. The fabric is usually red, either cotton or velvet. The plaques are made of gold or gold-plated copper. The most common motifs that the plaques are embellished with are flowers or peacocks. A row of teardrop-shaped glass beads further decorate this necklace. They are sewn to the fabric on the periphery. The most popular use of the tikma is in the various ceremonies for girls, in the wedding ceremonies and in traditional dances.

Newari girl wearing traditional tikma necklace during Indra Jatra festival

Tayo is another exclusive necklace of the Newari women. 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 or coral.

Newari girls wearing tayo necklaces. Photo courtesy Sigismund von Dobsch├╝tz

19th century newari gold tayo necklace with peacock motif and thirteen cobras. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Above the stones, nine to thirteen cobras are set, sometimes with small stone or glass beads hanging from their mouths. It is a powerful sacred ornament.

Dori necklace. Photo source

Western Tamang women wear a large necklace of silver pendants called dori. It is composed of a center pendant decorated with glass stones, which represents an arrowhead and rows of mango-shaped smaller pendants attached to both sides. Both the large pendant and the smaller ones are worked in repoussage and chasing. The components are strung on the black cotton thread or dark wool yarn.

Limbu girl wearing tilhari, rupiya mala and kantha necklaces. Photo courtesy Eksha Limbu

The kantha necklace is worn by the women of Limbu, Kirat Rai, Magar and Gurung groups. It consists of gold beads - round, fluted or barrel shaped - combined with red felt pads, which besides functioning as a cushion between beads also provide a striking colour contrast to the gold. Multiple pads are often used, sometimes up to three cm in thickness.

Closer view of the kantha necklace. Photo source

Among Tibeto-Nepalese very popular are bead necklaces strung from various turquoise and coral beads in all sizes and shapes. Depending on the area other materials can be mixed too: dzi beads, pearls, amber, agate and even gold. A necklace may be a single bead on a string, or an arrangement of three beads, a strand of beads falling on the chest or several strands of impressively large beads. In many cases the necklace serves as the support for an amulet container, jantar.

Tibetan woman wearing coral-turqoise-dzi beads necklace with amulet container jantar

Sherpa woman wearing pearls-turqoise-coral-dzi beads necklace with a jantar amulet box

An interesting protective necklace is worn in the western region of Nepal. It is called tengura and is made of phallus-shaped pieces of bone or other materials set into metal bezels. It is believed to keep evil spirits from rising to the head.

Tengura necklace from the Karnali region of Nepal. Photo  source

Very significant looking necklaces are worn by the Tharu women. Many of them are large and heavy and worn in multiples. The most typical is the har necklace made up of two large flat triangles from which hang a number of chains of increasing lengths.

Tharu girl wearing a pote, not typical har with pendant and a crescent moon-shaped taunk necklaces

Rana Tharu woman wearing typical har necklace. Photo courtesy Philippe Guy

 There are even more varieties of necklaces in Nepal but these ones are most typical and most interesting of them all.

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  1. You're making my knees go weak! I want all those necklaces. I'm making a mental note so I know what tyo buy when I get there! x

  2. What a variety of wonderful necklaces. My favorites are the coral-tourquoise-dzi beads. Your pictures are beautiful particularly the two of the little girls.
    Have a fine weekend my dear!

  3. Wonderful and interesting post! I've seen some of these types of necklaces in fine galleries and I instinctually knew they had personal meaning. So many differing pieces and all of the women look beautiful and proud wearing their jewelry. I love how your blog gives me a window into another culture!

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  4. Wondeful post! And very clear explanation of the different types of necklaces in Nepal. Thank you! Www.ethnicadornment.com

  5. Una entrada increible!!! Parte de la cultura de Nepal se ve reflejada en el uso de estos collares,cada cual con un significado muy particular e interesante.

  6. This is fascinating stuff and makes western jewellery look boring!

  7. Thank you for such a well-researched and informative post. What a great variety of necklaces! And you've assembled such beautiful photos of each.

  8. A lot of information on Nepalese jewelry, thank you for sharing.

  9. Wow, what a jewelry. Great and very informative article! I already seen in magazines that Tibethan and Nepaleze women wear the most fantastic and bold pieces. So very photogenic too! Loving it.

  10. Wow, what a blog regarding Pendant Jewelry. Thanks for given us such information . Dear Your information is very clear about of the different types of necklaces in Nepa.

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  12. Huge blog having good source of information aboutSilver Pendants For Women.Keep sharing the good posts ahead..

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  15. waw such a great post you have shared Ladies Wear

  16. Lovely!!..
    Tharu one fascinated me more.
    Would you know some of the ornaments craftsmen of these jewellry living in Kathmandu or outside kathmandu?

  17. These necklace are cute and colourful. I love to make this type of different jewellery.

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