India’s rich culture is dominated by artistic expression through Classical and folk music, dance, and drama. These play an intrinsic part of the society and help in conveying stories as a part of the oral tradition. Like most girls from a culturally strong south Indian Brahmin family, I too learnt Classical music, an instrument (Veena) and Bharatanatyam. Due to various health issues I couldn’t pursue dance the way I wanted to as a kid or even a teenager. Later on, my abysmal time management skills kept me away from dance. But I love dancing and indulge myself with it either as a form of fitness of simply for fun whenever possible. Though, I have moved far far away from classical dance, I can never forget the colours, the clothes or the dance jewellery that made me fall in love with Bharatanayam in the first place.
Chennai’s Cultural scene
With schools like Kalakshetra and music festivals like Marghazi mahotsava (A month long festival of Music, dance and drama), dance and Chennai are inseparable. So when I was creating my Patinam collection, I wanted to include a lot of dance influenced pieces in it. As I mentioned in my earlier posts on the collection, Kemp jewellery focals formed a big part of my collection. Traditional Kemp dance jewellery is what is typically worn by Bharatnayam and Kuchipudi performers to complement their stitched silk attires. However, with changing times, many dancers, particularly while during fusion performances tend to wear alternative designer garments and jewellery.
The Dancer in this image is wearing Hair ornaments (Thalai saaman – Nethi pattai (matha patti in Hindi), Surya & Chandran (Sun and moon) and Rakodi at the crown), Nose rings ( ring, stud and septum charm – Mookuthi and bullaku) Earchain (maatal) with stud and hanging (Jimmiki Kammal), Adigai (Choker), Aaram (Haar or long necklace), bangles and Waist belt (Odiyaanam)
Contemporary Indian dance jewellery
Then there are patrons who while attending music and dance performances want to wear contemporary pieces that are inspired by Indian dance jewellery. These are women who want to stand out from their peers while staying true to the tradition. I decided to cater to this niche segment with four Contemporary Indian dance jewellery designs in Patinam.
Temple border bangle
A Temple border is a hallmark of south Indian aesthetics. A bottle green, royal blue or a maroon saree with a golden temple border is a classic, must have item of clothing in every Indian women’s wardrobe. When paired with kemp jewellery, it makes you look stunning. Inspired by this classical look I set out to create bangles. I had to recently throw out my kemp bangles as the stones at the inner wrist come off due to friction and use. As a solution, I created a soft felt lined bangle with a Temple border fabric and embellished with kemp focals. As the focals are on top, it is easier to take care of. This particular one is for sale and fits 2.6 to 2.8 sizes. It can be customade in other sizes too. Know everything about bangles including sizing here.
An Aaram is a long stone studded necklace with a fan shaped pendant with stones. It is typically layered with short necklaces and/or choker for a grand presence during dance recitals. It can be a part of a Parure (a set of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, hair ornaments, etc) or it can be a stand alone piece. Similar jewellery is also worn during weddings.
I created this Contemporary Indian dance jewellery as a fabric cord necklace using Blue Chettinad check fabric. Its long and lightweight and a great options for patrons to wear to performances. Infact, I have now made this piece thrice – each time for a mother or Aunt of a dancer who wanted to wear it to a dance performance.
The Dance necklace in red, green, and white showcases the festivity of the dance costumes. It is not just inspired by Bharatanayam but also by Kathakali, Kathak, and Kuchipudi dance forms. The necklace looks best when paired with solid clothes – particularly plain sarees like Kerala kasavu saree or plain kurtas. It can even be used to accessorize plain Tees with long skirts for a fusion look. It is a great piece to wear to Indian weddings to look gorgeous without going over the top. The dance necklace with Gota fabric cord, kemp focals and beads is available for sale.
Naatyam Cord Necklace
The dance costumes that I have seen my friends or cousins wear were colourful. Complementing reds and green or yellows, purples and oranges would be worn. Truth be told, I started to learn classical dance just because I wanted to wear these costumes. But that dream never became a reality. I also know of many others who share a similar tale. This necklace is for those folks who love these rich vibrant costumes and jewellery but are stuck wearing boring formals or casuals for everyday wear. Imagine wearing this jacquard fabric cord necklace with rakodi focal and ribbon beads with minimal whites and blacks for an occasion at work. No doubt, you would be a head turner.
The naatyam Cord Necklace – is an abstraction of colours and patterns used in Dance costumes and the coordinating stone jewellery. It is a representation of the material culture that surrounds this traditional dance form.
As there are many more pieces in the Patinam collection with Kemp focals, I will showcase them in upcoming posts. In the meanwhile, I would like to know a bit more about you. Did you ever learn classical music or dance? If so has it inspired you to write, present or create a product based on it? Are you fascinated by the material culture surrounding it?
Do tell me in the comments.
I hope you found it interesting