Just like clothes, jewellery worn by women has also been representative of ethnic communities in Nepal. These pieces of jewellery worn separately or together with ethnic attires enhance the look of women.
Jewellery is not just about women, but its items are also representative of the times, traditions and culture. There are various indigenous and ethnic communities residing in every corner of Nepal with their own attires, culture and jewellery.
Here are 10 popular jewellery items worn by Nepali women:
Pote is a traditional garland made by threading colourful glass beads, usually red or green, together. Each and every glass bead gets attached to a string in a circular manner. This maala (garland) is usually worn by married women of the Brahmin and Chhetri communities. This jewellery is culturally given to a new bride by her husband as a symbol of a prosperous married life. So, it holds great value in her life.
One of the pieces of jewellery that are only allowed to be worn by married women in the Hindu community is tilari/tilhari/tilahari, like pote. Tilari is one of the traditional jewellery items in the Nepali community that has both social and religious importance. Tilari is a very popular necklace made up of gold; it is assembled with beads of multiple colours, especially red, green, or yellow which is said to be an important ornament for a Nepali wedding ceremony. It is said to bring good fortune and prolong their husbands’ life.
Naugedi is a powerful primal ornament with a striking appearance that is able to lighten up any attire. This ornament with nine gold beads and pote is worn by married women. You can see women wearing naugedi during various programmes and festivals such as Dashain, Teej, Tihar, with tilari or jantar.
The word ‘lunswan’ means golden flower. This jewellery is usually worn by new brides of the Newa community. It is worn on the top of the new bride’s head. It is crafted in a circular shape using gold, with golden birds, flowers and the image of Ganesh at the centre of coral.
Kantha is a necklace used by women of the indigenous communities such as Limbu (Kirat), Magar, and Gurung. This traditional necklace adds the traditional touch to the attires of the ethnic costumes. To make this necklace, gold beads are connected with red felt pads that provide a beautiful colour contrast to the gold.
Dhungri is a traditional earring with a flower design created from rare stones like rubies, emeralds, and pearls along with gold. It is in the shape of a daffodil flower with six or more leaves. This is one of the oldest ornaments that are slowly disappearing day by day, and are only seen on the ears of old women in a very remote area of Nepal.
This is an eye-catching piece of square-shaped jewellery that is made from gold or silver with some precious gems attached to it and hand-crafted with different textures. In the inner layer of a jantar, a paper is kept in which a Buddhist monk or a Hindu priest notes all the secret mantras and is wrapped with a thin plastic tied to a thread. The jantar maala is worn by women to be safe from social evils and empower them with spiritual strength and is considered a symbol of good fortune.
Phuli is a special ornament that is adored by Nepali women. It is worn by women on the nose. It is commonly worn by women in their everyday lives. In Nepal, all the women from different tribes wear this nose jewellery item except for the women from the Newa and Tibetan communities.
One of the beautiful pieces of jewellery that are worn by women in the Terai region is referred to as bichhi. It is an ornament that is worn around the toe, like a ring for a finger. This toe ring is usually made from silver and is used by women of every age group. However, it is very popular among married women.
Bulaki is one of the many ornaments that are being extinct day by day. This is worn by the people of the Limbu, Magar, and Thami communities. Bulaki is an ornament for a nose that is a combination of ring and pendant that swings below the nose to their lips. The size, shape, and design of a bulaki vary as per the place and people. There is a belief that if bulaki is placed in the mouth after the demise of the woman, the soul of the body will get redemption.