Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about the Indian traditions of the beautiful Bangles and jewellery of India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Bangles are rigid bracelets usually from metal, wood or plastic. They are traditional ornaments worn mostly by South Asian women in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a common tradition to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding and the honeymoon will end when the last bangle breaks. These stacks of bangles were photographed by the photographer in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India.
Bangles are rigid bracelets usually from metal, wood or plastic. They are traditional ornaments worn mostly by South Asian women in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a common tradition to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding and the honeymoon will end when the last bangle breaks. These stacks of bangles were photographed by the photographer in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024

Bangles and jewellery of India

The photographer found out that bangles also have a very traditional value in Hinduism and it is considered inauspicious to be bare armed for a married woman. Toddler to older woman could wear bangles based on the type of bangles. Bangles made of gold or silver are preferred for toddlers. Bangles are also known as Nepali 'Chura', Bengali 'Churi', Hindi 'Choodi' and Marathi 'Bangadi'. Some men wear a single bangle on the arm or wrist called 'Kada' or 'Kara'.

What is a bangle?

Bangles are circular in shape and, unlike bracelets, are not flexible. The word is derived from Hindi bungri, which is glass. They are made of numerous precious as well as non-precious materials such as gold, silver, platinum, glass, wood, ferrous metals, plastic and so on.

Beautiful bracelets of India
In Sikhism, the father of a Sikh bride will give the groom a gold ring, a 'Kara', which is a steel or iron bangle and a 'Mohra'. 'Chooda' is a kind of bangle that is worn by Punjabi women on her wedding day. It is a set of white and red bangles with stone work. According to tradition, a woman is not supposed to buy the bangles she will wear. Moradabad is India's largest producer of bangles. Bangles made from sea shell, which are white color, are worn by married Bengali and Oriya Hindu women. A special type of bangle is worn by women and girls, especially in the Bengal area, commonly known as a 'Bengali bangle', which is used as a substitute for a costly gold bangle and is produced by fixing a thin gold strip weighing between one to three gram is thermo-mechanically fused onto a bronze bangle, followed by manual crafting on that fused gold strip. Bangles are part of traditional Indian jewellery.

They are usually worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. Most Indian women prefer wearing either gold or glass bangles or combination of both. Inexpensive bangles made from plastic are slowly replacing those made by glass, but the ones made of glass are still preferred at traditional occasions such as marriages and on festivals. The designs range from simple to intricate handmade designs, often studded with precious and semi-precious stones such as diamonds, gems and pearls. Sets of expensive bangles made of gold and silver make a jingling sound.

The process of making bangles starts with heating metal rods, mostly brass and copper, in fire until they become malleable. The artisans then place the heated rods on a wooden block and use a hammer to shape them into a circular bangle. It was fascinating to see how effortlessly they molded the metal into perfect circles with just a few strikes of the hammer. After shaping the bangles, they are dipped in a solution to clean and polish them. Next, comes the most delicate and intricate part of the process, which is the design. The artisans use a variety of traditional tools and techniques to decorate the bangles. Some use small chisels to make patterns or designs, while others carefully embed stones and gems to create intricate designs. I was amazed to see how much precision and skill goes into every step of the process.

Types of bangles
The imitation jewellery tends to make a tinny sound when jingled. There are two basic types of bangles, which is a solid cylinder type and a split, cylindrical spring opening and closing type. The primary distinguishing factor between these is the material used to make the bangles. This may vary from anything from glass to jade to metal to lac and even rubber or plastic. One factor that adds to the price of the bangles is the artifacts or the work done further on the metal. This includes embroidery or small glass pieces or paintings or even small hangings that are attached to the bangles. The rareness of a color and its unique value also increase the value.

Bangles made from lac are one of the oldest ones and among the brittle category too. Lac is material which is molded in hot kilns-like places to make these bangles. Among the recent entrants are the rubber bangles that are worn more like a wrist band by youngsters while the plastic ones are there to add a trendy look.

"Normally, a bangle worn by people around the world is simply an inflexible piece of jewellery worn around the wrist. However, in many cultures, especially in the South Asia, bangles have evolved into various types in which different ones are used at different occasions"

Jewellery of India
Indian jewellery is as old as Indian civilisation itself. The ruins of the Indus Valley civilisation, going back to 5,000 years, have yielded examples of beaded jewellery. In the sculptures at Bharhut, 'Sanchi' and 'Amaravati' and the paintings at Ajanta can be seen the wide range of jewellery worn by man and woman, by king and commoner. The temples of South India, Bengal, Odisha and Central India present a veritable cornucopia of the jeweller's art. Greek visitors to ancient India marvelled at the elaborate Indian jewels of the time. The epics, the 'Ramayana' and the Mahabharata and the 'Arthasastra', a text nineteen centuries old, mention the intricate arts of the jewellers of yore. The 'Silappadikaram', an ancient Tamil classic, talks of a society dealing in gold, pearls and precious stones. Paes, a Portuguese chronicler, writes of the 'Vijayanagar' empire where visitors were dazzled by the jewellery worn.

The 'Nepali Chuda bangle' or which in Hindi is called 'नेपाली चूड़ा चूड़ी' is a traditional piece of jewelry worn by Nepali women, especially during weddings and festivals. It is made of gold or silver and often decorated with stones, pearls or beads. The 'Chuda bangle' symbolizes the marital status, prosperity and happiness of the wearer. It is usually worn in pairs, one on each wrist and sometimes accompanied by other bangles or bracelets. The 'Chuda bangle' is also considered a sign of cultural identity and heritage for Nepali women.

"Jewellery in ancient times was not only an adornment, but each stone was endowed with a mystical quality and used as a protection against evil forces. The 'Navaratna' or 9 gems, each sacred to a planet, are worn in a particular order for the same reason to this day. The 'Maniratna', called the serpent stone, was used as a talisman to protect the wearer. 'Rudraksha' and 'Tulsi' seeds and sandalwood beads are worn even today during Hindu worship"

See this video about bangles in India made by Vibe Indian.

"- As a traveler who has always been fascinated by different cultures and their traditions, I decided to embark on a journey to India to explore the country's rich heritage and handicrafts. One particular craft that caught my attention was the art of making bangles. Bangles have been an integral part of Indian culture for centuries and are now a popular fashion accessory around the world. I was intrigued by the craftmanship and the traditional techniques used in making these beautiful pieces of jewelry", the Photographer says.

"- I was seeing a bangle-making Indian woman in the Rajasthani town of Mandawa and I was immediately greeted by the sound of metal being hammered. As a bangle maker who seemed to be a highly skilled artisan. With every simple equipment neatly organized and she was fully focused on her work", the Photographer says again.

"- The finishing touch is adding a layer of lacquer, a natural resin, which gives the bangles a glossy finish and seals the design in place. After this, the bangles are heated once again in a furnace to ensure that the lacquer dries evenly. I couldn't resist trying on some of the bangles and the artisans were more than happy to help. The intricate designs and vibrant colors of the bangles were simply breathtaking. Each one was a unique masterpiece, representing the rich cultural heritage of India"
, the Photographer says again.

"- Through this experience, I gained a newfound appreciation for the craft of bangle making. It is not just a trade but a significant part of the cultural and artistic identity of India. The dedication and skill of the artisans I met truly amazed me and I left the workshop with a newfound admiration for their craft. As I continue my travels through India, I will always remember the craftsmen behind these beautiful bangles and the passion and artistry that goes into creating them"
, the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Gender inequality in India

Gender inequality in India

Read also:  Gender inequality in India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of bangles in Aurangabad. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.