What is the history of bangles and bracelets ?

What is the history behind bangles and bracelets? When were they first of all worn as ornament? Be aware of these surprising facts through this research-based article!
By: Satyajit Banerjee
Jan. 4, 2012 - PRLog -- The history of bangles and bracelets in India dates back to Vedic period. The archeological evidences excavated from the settlements of Indus Valley Civilization testify that Indians were expert in making several types of bangles and bracelets since an erstwhile era.

1. Bangle- It has been termed as “Kankan”, “ Valaya”, Ruchika, Manibandha kalapa, Phalakavalaya and Hestali in Sanskrit. It's mentioned as “Valya” and “Kankan” in great epic Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Stotram. Further, it's called as “Manibandhan” in “Abhigyan Shakuntlam”, “Ratna valaya” in Jatak, “Jala Valaya” in Gatha saptshati. The Vedic text, Satapatha Brahmana refers the Sanskrit term “Kaca” for glass. Indian glass-makers were expert in making glass bangles.

In ancient time, bangle, kangan and bracelet- all these ornaments were referred through same terms. All the Hindu goddesses are depicted wearing bangles in their hands.

Bronze figurine of Indus Valley Civilization (2300-1000 B.C.) excavated in Mohenjodaro wears bangles on entire arm. Yakshini statue of Sunga dynasty (321-72 BC) also sports intricately designed bangles. The statues and paintings of Ajanta and Ellora Cave are portrayed sporting these wrist ornaments. The female figures of Sanchi also wears bangles as in Ajanta and Ellora paintings.

The term “Bangle” is originated from the Hindi “Bangri” or “Bangali”. These are also called as Chooda, Choodi, Gajulu in different regions. Currently, these are being made of gold, silver, lakh, glass, shell, ivory, platinum, wood, plastic etc.  

2. Hand bracelet-  In modern time, there lies difference between the terms bangles and bracelets. Bangles are made in rigid, thin and circular design without any clasp. These jingle when banged against each other. On the other hand, bracelets are flexible, wider and come in several designs. These come with and without clasp and don't jingle. Bracelets can also be paired with bangles.

As per Bharata's Natyashastra, bracelet (Rucika) is one of the men ornaments. According to Kamasutra, bracelet (Chudaka) can be made by joining three or more armlets. Kartikeya red sandstone statue (200 AD) of Mathura wears 4 banded bracelet in right hand along with golden wristlets. Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty wears her Mangal sutra as bracelet on her wrist.

Bracelets are being designed in several fits such as regular fit, loose fit and snug fit. Cuff bracelets are wider than standard bangle and come in snug fit with clasp, button or snaps.

3. Kangan- There were called “Kankan” in Sanskrit and that time there was no difference in bangle in Kangan. Goddess Saraswati in Banabhatt's Kadambari wears conch bangles. In modern time, Kangans are recognized as thicker than simple bangles and are inflexible as the bangles and bracelets. These are made in decorative or plain design and can be worn in one or both hands.

4. Kada- This rigid steel or iron bracelet is worn by male as well as female Sikhs and is one of the 5  kakars initiated by 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Apart from this, the males of other religion also sport Kada in different designs.

5. Wristband- These encircling strips made from different materials are worn around the wrist. Sweatband made of terrycloth is used for wiping sweat from forehead during the sport. Colored wristbands are usually given to attendees in form of event wristbands.

6. Arm bracelet-  These are worn on the  upper arm as arm ring and also known as arm cuff or arm band.   It was called as “Keyura” or “Kataka” in Sanskrit and made in design of a cylinder embellished with filigree or pearl work.

7. Armlet- This upper-arm jewellery is called as “Angad (Serpentine Armlets )” in Sanskrit and is often made in the design of a coiled snake. Lord Shiva wears snakes as armlets. These were also made in forms of creepers, crocodiles and faces of animals such as peacocks, elephants, lions etc. It's also called as bicep-let in English.

8. Hip bracelet - It's also called as “Mekhla” in Sanskrit and “Girdle” in English. In ancient time, these were made in different styles. “Kanci” girdle was made with tinkling bells. “Rasana” was made of a linked chain strung with beads, stones and pearls. Men also used to wear kayabandh or cloth girdles.

9. Anklet bracelet- These are called “Nupur”, “Kinkini valaya”, “Paada Angad”, “Payal”  in Sanskrit and “Anklet” or “Ankle chain” in English. This ornament with trinket bell-globules is worn around the ankle. In Vedic period, it was made in various designs. The lightweight “Manjira” anklet was  made after loosely coiling several times around ankles. Its hollow was inserted with gems, which used to tinkle when in motion. It's still popular in Manwar. The “Nupura” was plain design anklet. “Kinkini” anklet featured tiny dangling bells. “Tulakotil” anklet is heavy and its two ends are enlarged on the meeting point. It's now worn by the ladies of Andhra Pradesh.

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