As a Tamilian, my fondess of Kemp jewellery is nothing out of the ordinary. Even a kid I was drawn to the silver and glass kemp Rakodi (pronounced RA ko di) that my grandmom had and the kemp necklace my mom used to wear. Infact, I was so drawn to them, that my Grandmom had a kid’s Rakodi made for me. I have no idea what happened to it or to the silver one but I do still have her heirloom with a rare the flag motif in the center.
Down the memory lane
I have a vague recollection of forcing my mom to dress me up in silk skirts and blouses (Pavadai chattai) as a kid when we would visit a local temple. I must have been 4-5 years old then. I would make her plait my hair with the kemp rakodi, put flowers on and wear tiny earrings, necklaces and matching bangles. The priest used to tease me saying that I am more decked up than the Goddess at the temple. Sadly, not one photograph exists with me that full get up. My mom tells me that I would refuse to wear western dresses or get a short haircut. I would feel tortured whenever they would cut my hair which happened a lot. Much later, as a teen when I would roam about in Bermuda shorts and faded tees, my mom would sigh and wish that I retained some of the dress sense that I had as a kid. Mothers, there is no pleasing them!
Rakodi Aka Choodamani
Choodamani is a crest jewel, worn at the top of your skull to protect the top of your head from direct Sun and chill exposure. It gets great importance in Valmiki Ramayana when Sita gives her Chudamani (Jatavalli) to Hanuman to be passed over to Rama as a mark of her identification. A Rakodi is an open work gilded oranmant that could be one to 3 inches in diameter. It could be studded with precious stones like rubies, emerald and diamonds or could be made of glass. A Rakodi is typically worn with the Thalai samman as described in my previous post on Dance jewellery. It is a set that consist of a head chain and two components that look like the sun and the moon respectively. They represent the duality of life and its balancing act. The round component (Sun – suryan) can also be used as a mini rakodi for kids or by people who do not have a lot of hair on their heads like me.
Patinam kemp rakodi jewellery
Since Patinam stems from personal emotions and inspiration, I wanted to use kemp rakodi jewellery as focal elements for some of the pieces. I wanted to adapt them for the here and now by fusing various aesthetics. Though Kemp jewelry is predominantly Scarlet – maroon and green with gold, off white pearls play a big deciding factor when it comes to aesthetics. In the above piece, I have paired a very European looking beaded pearl ring with the kemp focal. The Scarlet beads shown repetition of colour and the tiny pearls in the cord closure focus on mirroring the ring, giving a lot of rhythm and movement to the piece while still managing to look heavy (grand). The Arakku Rakodi necklace is for sale.
Kemp Addigai – Sold
For instance the Kemp addigai is an European Silk cord necklace with a kemp Rakodi focal drop. Typically in traditional Indian jewelry black cords are used in Araignan kayaru (Hidden waist rope), as neck cords by men while wearing amulets or to tie up hair accessories in the hair. The tying cord is usually covered up with flowers or other bright embellishments
Yellow Green – Surya necklace
The Surya or Sun component is typically worn on the right side of the head and the mirroring moon on the left. This habit of consumption is brought about in this necklace. This mixed media piece is all about the bright yellow sun and the green grass that grows because of the sunlight. For people who were asking in a couple of other places – yes the fabric is “authentic recycled saree silk”. The Yellow green necklace is available for sale.
Sarees of T Nagar – sold
When I thinking about localities to include in my Patinam collection, TNagar figured in the top five localities. T Nagar – particular South Usman road in Tnagar is a go to shopping area in Chennai that is famous for its saree and jewellery shops. Its noisy, boisterous, colourful, flavourful and often over the top and hence interesting. Weekends particularly before festivals are super crowded that most locals avoid it if they can. Though each store stocks up very similar merchandise they do brisk business on most days. There have been instances where I have seen the same fabric or sarees in different stores at different prices. People buy a saree or kurta fabric at one store and match it with a blouse material or jewellery from another. I have always wondered if these sarees and jewelry could tell stories of customers, what would it be? Thus was born this light weight necklace with a melange of beads.
Rakodi Necklace – sold
The last piece that I want to show in this post features an actual rakodi. No more mini sun components. However, this is an unusual rakodi as its shaped like a six petal flower flower. I combined a red and black tartan check fabric, thread beads and pearls to make this cord necklace.
With that we come to the end of this post. It leaves me wishing that this “I have a smartphone, I will take a picture of everything culture” existed 20 -25 years ago. I love the quirky kid that I was and wish that I could go back in time and convince myself to hold on to my natural instincts and aesthetics strongly.
Did you have any quirks as a kid? Do your childhood influences or likes influence or inspire you now?
I hope you find it interesting