The history of Indian handmade jewelry is as old as the Indus Valley Civilization, i.e., over 5,000 years old. There are mentions of jewelry in several of ancient Indian texts. According to Rigveda, the deities who are supposed to be the gods of the universe, Agni and Rudra, are the possessors of seven treasures. In symbolism, a special significance is attached to, Maniratna’, the mythical serpent stone. There are lots of references like in Arjun in disguise at the court of Raja Virat, wore earrings in his ears and a woman’s necklace and bracelets. One of the Gods presented him with a gold chain and a diadem.The earliest evidence of cylindrical carnelian beads of Harappan style were reported from Kunal, Mehrgarh, Nausharo, Nagwada and other Harappan regions of India. The early Harappan bead-makers were experts of the technique of sharpening and perforation of soft stones like steatite, turquoise, and lapis lazuli as well stones like agate, carnelian, and jasper.A large number of hollow and solid beads were found from during the excavation of Mohenjo-Daro, these beads were used for making various ornaments. Besides this a huge number of jewelry like earrings, rings, bracelets and anklets made with gold and silver were common for the people of Indus Valley. The sculptures belonging to the Mauryan period, depict many representative examples of the jewellery of those early times. Most of the feminine figures are shown wearing strings of bead necklaces and striking hip girdles comprising strands of beads held together with oval-shaped plaque and decorative clasps. The sculpture found from Bharhut describes that both men and women used to wear jewellery. The male figures did not wear any ornament on forehead, waist and anklets but the body displays ornaments of all conceivable sorts.The jewellery found at Taxila is Greco-Roman or influenced by Scythian or Persian sources. In relation to the previous Mauryan and Sunga periods, there was a tendency towards a greater refinement and simplicity of precious stones. The uses of gold and silver were continued in this period along with other jewels like cornelians, agates, coral, pearls, amethysts, etc.Since the beginning of its journey, the charm of jewelry and the beauty of Indian women by adorning it have never been separated. It is rare to find any woman in India who may not have ever loved to decorate herself with jewelry. Indian jewelry has always been used in infinitely more complex ways than as mere pieces of decoration: it functioned as a social signifier, an insurance policy, a talisman, a diplomatic calling card and, of course, a means to express one’s love or admiration for the other person. The history of jewelry in India is, to a large extent, the history of the India itself.MeherKriti is the result of a fruitful collaboration between us and our partners, which include adroit and dexterous Indian craftsmen. It represents the many thousands of years old legacy of Indian jewelry, from the ones mentioned in various texts of the Indus Valley civilization to the present and explores the distinctive and unique heritage of Indian jewelry: the striking boldness of South Indian jewels, the delicate refinement of the Mughal period, the flamboyant jewels of the maharajas, astonishing jewelry pieces created in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – the epoch of intensive cross-cultural influences between the Persians, the Europeans, the Mongols and the Indians, along with the production of contemporary designers incorporating the enduring beauty of Indian design and the highest level of craftsmanship.MeherKriti draws its inspiration from India’s past, and our handcrafted jewelry display the amazing continuity of hereditary craftsmanship skills. Our designs have remained faithful to the classical heritage of a bygone age; our products are grand but not garish, the designs exotic and eclectic, and the gems impressive. MeherKriti helps Indian artisans who translate architectural silhouettes, flowering plants, and the geometric lines and symmetry of art deco into their designs showcase their talent.
Indian craftsmanship has always been an exposition of Indian skill set and a struggle for national, cultural and religious identity. Indian craftsmen throughout their past and present have expounded their emotional and religious sentiments as well as their political commitments through their products. Our complex history of trade is replete with stories of artisans with unmatched talents. Craft production in India as a manifestation of heritage and tradition has tended to serve the interest of nation-state building, or nationalism in general. Indian craftsmen have not only saved our culture from the prospect of extinction due to colonial policies and an onslaught of Western modernism – which stood in stark contrast from India’s traditional values – hence, the Indian artisan must be upheld as a representative of the Indian civilization as a whole. The Indian artisan is a carrier of an authentic image of India which symbolizes not only a cultural buffet but also a sort of organic solidarity.
A point of interest is the extreme simplicity of the craftsman’s tools and methods. The painter’s brushes, for example, are made of the awns of a simile of tools; various grasses, of squirrels’ hair, of roots, or fiber, and he is always able to replace them or modify them at need. The artisan makes his tools himself to suit the work in hand, and he does not hesitate to make a new tool out of an old one for a special purpose. The value of this simplicity lies in the fact that the craftsman relies upon himself rather than upon his tools, and at the same time has completely mastered them, adapting them exactly to the requirements of the moment.
The historically imbibed plural aesthetics of Indian handicrafts are priceless economic and cultural assets of our country. The production of handicrafts is the second largest source of income among rural populations. While the question of employment viability hovers over skilled Indian artisans struggling to meet ends today, there is also a responsibility to ensure that age-old handicrafts sustain into future generations too. We need public-private engagement in this segment more than any other, so that the original ‘Make in India’ products can be revived. India may be ‘incredible’ but the people who toil hard to give the country a place on the world map are however not shining. Most of national award winning craftsmen whose exquisite crafts have helped India earn a place high amongst those in the world are unfortunately living without even the basic amenities. These craftsmen are fighting hard for their livelihood, health, education and safety of their family members.
India is one of the most sought after destinations for handicraft due to variation in culture and people who produce varied kinds of handicraft. The Indian handicrafts industry is fragmented, with more than 7 million regional artisans and more than 67,000 exporters/export houses promoting regional art and craftsmanship in the domestic and global markets, mostly women and people from weaker sections of the society get a job in this industry.
MeherKriti believes in playing a part in the changing game. E-Commerce has waived off things such as high rentals, costs of fit outs, lock-in periods and added logistics to cost. With MeherKriti, consumers will now be able to purchase many, popular ethnic products & handicrafts from the comfort of their homes. With us going online, customers who do not have access to physical stores can purchase the products with just a tap of their finger.
Kundan jewelry is a form of gemstone and glass jewellery that is set between gold foils. It originated in Gujarat and Rajasthan in the medieval times and continues to flourish even today. Its defining features are its precious and semi-precious polished gemstones that are set in layers upon layers of beautiful shapes and patterns. Kundan is a colourful style of jewelry that burgeoned during the Mughal Era. Considered to be traditional 24-karat gold jewelry of India, it is used in many auspicious occasions like marriages and festival celebrations. Kundan jewelry is a combination of two fascinating styles. One side of the jewelry piece is embellished with coloured stones and a set of diamonds with “Kundan”, meaning pure gold, and on the other side it is decorated with intricate designs of colourful Meenakari inspired by the Persian style of art.
The process of making Kundan jewelry starts with the construction of the skeletal framework which is known as ‘Ghaat’, followed by the procedure of ‘Paadh’ where lac or natural resin is poured into the base and shaped according to the Kundan set designs.
The next stage is called ‘Khudai’ where the uncut, shaped, polished (multi-coloured or single coloured) gemstones, as well as glass, are laid upon the framework. More Kundan or melted gold is added to the edges for a neat, polished look. Details are fine-tuned with the addition of Meenakari at this stage. After that, the process of ‘Pakai’ involves adding the gold foils to hold the piece firmly together. The final stage is the ‘Chillai’ where the gemstones are properly polished and some innovations are made while maintaining the traditionalism of this medieval art.
While artisans and modern makers of Kundan jewellery experiment with diverse stones regularly, the most commonly seen gemstones in Kundan jewellery designs are pearls, diamonds, emeralds, sapphire, topaz, garnet, etc. Kundan jewellery is always in demand, even more so during the wedding season. No Indian bridal ensemble is considered complete without a lavish inclusion of Kundan Jewellery. Aside from weddings, Kundan jewellery is worn at any social gathering, celebration or religious ceremonies. Millions of women buy Kundan jewellery to complement their Indian attires and some even wear them with contemporary, western outfits as a style statement.
A Kundan jewellery set typically includes an elaborate necklace and equally elaborate pair of Kundan earrings. A Kundan bridal set comes with a maang-tikka and matching cuffs and head ornaments too and is heavier and more embellished than a regular Kundan set.
You can also buy a Kundan choker, Kundan bracelets, Kundan rings and nose rings, cuffs (and haath phools), anklets (paizaab), arm bracelets and head accessories. Kundan jewellery also comes in out-of-the-box designs with motifs like animals, petals and flowers, and celestial bodies.
Exquisite needlework of repeated fine chain stitches, worked in multi-coloured silk on a satin or cotton ground, called aari embroidery, is a timeless craftsmanship of India.
Aari work is done using a pointed crochet and is worked on cotton, wool, silk and other fabrics. It uses woolen or art-silk thread for embroidery. It is used for embroidery work on cotton, organza, velvet, linen and jute ground fabrics suitable for making drapes and upholsteries.
What is interesting about the Aari is that it is a style that has surpassed change. The art form had so much success that it was not only produced professionally for court use, but it gradually took over the commodity market and also at amateur level became part of folk or tribal tradition.