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Exquisite Indigenous Designs
  • March 2009

The tribal culture and its intrinsic jewel art have a prominent position in the rich heritage of Gujarat. With a history of more than 5,000 years, Gujarat’s tribal jewelry has secured the position of an identity marker, security and symbol of social status. 

Ahir, Bharvad, Bhil, Jath, Meghwal, Mutwa, Dangis, Rabari and Rathwa are the major tribes of Gujarat. In ancient Gujarat, the tribals crafted jewelry from fruits, seeds, feathers, leaves, berries, flowers, animal bones and other natural material. Even today, the crafts prevails

The art of the highest antiquity in Gujarat, the jewelry making profession and its supplementary jobs like enameling, filigree work, open wirework and carving are hereditary work among the tribal people in many parts of Gujarat. Crafting of necklaces and earrings, precious stone-cutting and processing them into beautiful jewelry are a traditional profession in tribal culture. In Gujarat, jewelry is made not only for the human beings, but also for deities, idols and elephants and horses which are decorated during customary ceremonials. Specific jewels are used for special occasions such as marriage, naming ceremony, etc.

Gujarat’s tribal ornaments consist of earrings in various sizes, bangles made of bone, shell and ivory extending from the wrist to the armpit, silver bracelets, chokers, pendants and necklaces, nose rings and heavy anklets. Gems and stones are often used to adorn the ornaments since the people believe that many stones possess powerful zodiacal powers. Apart from silver enameling, stones of gold also are used to beautify the ornaments.  Gujarati women often wear a bunch of keys attached to a silver ring around their waist as part of their accessories.

The new generation trend is to go in for tribal ornaments of yore. Pachchikam, a kind of jewelry, which was produced in Kutch areas a few centuries back, has been revived by present day jewel designers. The preparation of Pachchikam involves very complex procedures such as cutting of semi-precious stones as well as glassworks and a single piece of this ornament could be made only with one or two months’ heavy work. Normally, the craft of making Pachchikam now rests with a few families in Guajarat and Kutch, who hand down the technique through generations.

In some areas of Kutch, exquisite tribal jewels like agate, beads and silver jewelry are being made using the traditional tribal methods. Crafting of silver jewelry is a popular vocation among the tribal people of Gujarat. Silver jewelry is produced mainly in Bhuj, Anjar and Mundra within the Kutch district and also in Porbandar, Surendranagar, Ahmedabad and Jamnagar.


Tourism India, India' s Travel & Tourism Magazine, Kerala , India

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