As you would have read in my Post on Bahubali Inspiration, I planned to wear Red and blue Afghan Tribal Jewelry for my Cousin’s wedding after watching the movie. Since the saree that I chose for this ocassion was a Silk ikat (Resist dyed) Korvai with silver tone Zari, I felt that Afghan jewelry in red and blue would look fabulous with it.
Afghan Tribal Jewelry
What is sold as Afghan Tribal Jewelry in the market today, typically comprises of chunky silver (or silver tone) jewelry with colored glass work. You get chokers, coins with stone set in them, lockets, key rings, chain tassels etc, which are very eclectic. They are usually made of German Silver (Cupronickel) or Alpaca silver. Afghan Tribal Jewelry is also sometimes referred to as kuchi jewelry or Nomad jewelry which I feel is a misnomer. History teaches us that these are infact Persian jewelry which were later taken up people of Yemen and can be found in collections of curators across the world. If anyone knows why it came to be called Afghan jewelry, please share in the comments and I would love to hear about it.
You can see gold version of this style of jewelry in the movie Alexander where Alexander meets and weds Princess Stateria II (Youtube link for the scene) in Babylon. If you watch the movie approx 20-25 minutes before this point, you’ll see the army entering through the beautiful Ishtar gate.
Faux Afghan Tribal Jewelry is also available with enamel replacing the colored stones. Other styles use acrylic stones stuck in metal bezels or metal pieces coloured with resin. The metal used on the higher end pieces is pewter and the lower end pieces is plated iron.
Making of Faux Afghan Tribal Jewelry
As Afghan jewelry components are available in the market I decided to buy readymade stuff and customise it. I bought some earrings and a long silver tone chain. The pendant you see below is actually a part of the earrings and the connectors became the actual earrings. All it required, was moving the components around and painting them to get the desired colours. When you have some Patina inks, nail paint and gloss sealers, you can do a lot with even basic items.
I altered my saree with a red gota border as I did not want the offwhite border of the saree (bottom border) to get dirty. I got a red solid and brocade blouse down to provide contrast. I had planned to wear the necklace and earrings made above with silver linked bangles. Yup – Silver to a Tamil Wedding after the outlandish orange gold of the Kitschy Gota jewelry. But it was not meant to be. There was something wrong with the stud (post) that one earring kept falling down. However, I had an alternate in the form of long silver quartz with me and wore that instead. This was after I had left my jewelry pouch at home while packing for the wedding and my mom had to go and get it as I had nothing to wear for the wedding. So much drama!!
The red stuff that I am wearing in my hands and legs is called Aaltha. Pronounced “Aallthaa” It is a red color liquid that drys in 3-5 minutes when applied and gives a bold look. It can be applied with Q-tips or with a brush like I did. Unlike Henna (Mehendi) which is a Persian Influence, Aaltha is traditionally Indian. There are references in Mahabharata about how women applied the oil of henna to colour the tips of their fingers and toes. It is worn on both hands and legs during weddings, celebrations and dance performances.
I have worn Aaltha as a kid and seen my cousins wear it during their dance performances or wedding. It lost its popularity in the late 90’s when mehendi became the order of the day. Nevertheless, I wanted to wear it for a long time. So during my Badrinath trip, I specifially looked for it and bought it at Haridwar. However, to my disappointment, it was very runny and had to be applied multiple times to get a bright red colour. It also bled with the slighest sweat or drop of water and everything I touched turned red. I could have just worn Red colour ink, like I did for a photoshoot for my students last year which stayed put for nearly 3 days in spite of scrubbing. So Lesson learnt – want aalta wear ink!
So that was my ikat Saree – Afghan Tribal jewelry LOTD. I hope that it inspired you to try out ethnic and tribal jewelry for formal occasions. It would for sure make your look unique.
Check out the rest of the posts in this third season of Bridal Series
Gota jewelry in Chennai- Alternative wedding jewelry
Bahubali Inspiration – Film and Fashion
Embroidered Fabric Bangles
I hope you found it interesting