Impact of New Technologies on Tribal Jewellery of India

Tribal jewellery is one of the most unique and attractive forms of jewelery in India. People from every corner of India inculcate their culture in these ornaments and give it a beautiful look. These jewellery are made by them from simple earthen materials like bone, wood, clay, shell and crude metal. Along with their attractive appearance, they have a special rustic charm. That is why it attracts a lot of people not only in India but also outside. Since the major population of Indian tribes are found in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and North East India, that is why you get a glimpse of these jewellery.

Tribal jewellery is no longer confined to the close tribal communities. People all over the world are attracted by the beauty of this type of jewellery and the simple yet extraordinary designs. Since ancient times, tribal communities around the world have used ornaments. Various tribes from different parts of the world like Egypt, India, Africa and other regions used abundantly found materials such as animal bones, teeth, ivory, stones, shells, wood and other such natural materials to make jewellery.

You can see that people from all corners of the world are using tribal jewelery in their daily lives. Today, you have a wide variety of tribal jewelery choices to choose from. You can wear the tribal necklace every day and pair it with light colors in your wardrobe. The simplistic appeal of tribal jewelery is what makes it so attractive. Similarly, you can wear a colorful, traditional, beaded bracelet or bangles with any simple saree or suit. A light tribal beaded necklace can also be carried to give it a more tribal look. Modern-contemporary style can be worn with such beautiful traditional tribal designs.

India has been a country endowed with a diverse tribal culture, which despite the pressure of modernization has preserved its traditions and values even today. Tribal jewelry retains its earthy beauty. On the other hand, it is a uniquely made and uniquely recognizable jewelry as compared to traditional jewellery. A brief glimpse of social and cultural traditions in tribal jewelry is their great feature. In olden times there were different ornaments to adorn various parts of the body. It is certified that beautiful handmade ornaments were also found in the excavations of the sites of Mohenjodaro and Indus Valley Civilization. (4). At the same time, detailed description of these ornaments and their mysterious powers are also mentioned in Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The royal families of ancient India hired indigenous craftsmen to make special ornaments for themselves. These valuable ornaments were passed down from generation to generation. Tribal jewelery was mainly worn on special occasions, as well as being beautiful, jewelry has also been known as a thread of religion since ancient times. The tribal people are like a heritage for the Indian land, each tribe has preserved its distinctive style of ornaments till now.

The ornaments made by the tribal from bone, wood, clay, oysters and raw metal were not only distinctive in design but also had a distinct rural and earthy charm. Tribal jewelery is made from locally available materials. While the spirit of globalization dominated the whole country and Indians were focused on chasing the fashion trends of foreign jewellery, it was the tribal of India who preserved the ancient arts and crafts of India.

The jewelery worn by the tribals is a form of Indian Ethnic Art. Due to the identity attached to its land, these ornaments stand out even in the crowd. The tribal living near the forests mostly lead wild biological life. They use different parts of plants like root, bark, leaves, fruit etc. Sometimes they also use animal hair, they also use this hair by dyeing it. Some castes use a lot of grass, beads, cane etc. Jewelry or jewelry includes decorative items worn for personal decoration, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets and cufflinks. 

From a Western point of view, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, except for example flowers. For many centuries metals such as gold, often combined with ‘gems’, have been the common material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used. Jewelery manifests itself in many forms.

Be it jewelry made of gold, beaded or even in modern or antique forms, jewelery has got its own class and it adds a very different glamor to the person wearing it. It may be very hard to believe, but the history of jewelery has undergone a tremendous change and ancient jewelery designs and delicate craftsmanship form the basis of the designs used in modern jewellery. All the ancient gold coins that were made in India and excavated in India attest to their importance in the places where they were found. These ancient forms of ornaments give us knowledge of the various forms of nature (gods, flowers, animals and birds) that existed in those times. In addition to its reputation as a gold coin, what we discover by looking at those coins is the remarkable and delicate artistry that sets it apart from every other coin.

These coins also provide a brief idea of the social and religious culture that existed during that time. The assortment of Indian jewelery is diverse and has a large stock of both ancient and modern forms of jewellery. Indian men and women have traditionally adorned themselves with a variety of jewellery. Gradually with the passage of time there has been a big change in the type of jewelery used by men and women. Jewelery for almost all parts of the body are present in Indian. This huge range of Indian jewelery includes earrings, necklaces, bangles, anklets, nose rings and much more. The use of precious gems to make jewelery more attractive has been an age-old tradition of India. Down the timeline, many types of jewelery have developed and faded again in India.

History of Tribal Jewellery

The history of jewellery has time and again inspired a lot of gold and contemporary jewellery makers to come up with lovely and intricate designs in the modern times. However, whenever it comes to the history of jewellery, it is very confusing and difficult to classify, as the forms of jewelry used in this period were very different from the ones we are used to. The oldest form of jewelry discovered in the Indian continent is described as ancient jewellery. Antique jewellery includes earrings, beads, amulets, seals, amulets and more(1). In the 3rd century BC, India was a major exporter of gems and gems, especially diamonds. This practice continued till the Mughal period. It is not known when the jewelry was first used, but the remains of ornaments made from snails found in the Blombos caves of South Africa are evidence that the existence of jewelry existed more than 100 thousand years ago. Ancient ornaments were made of animal teeth, bones, oysters, ivory, carved stone and wood. Metal jewelry existed even before 5000 BC. Modern clothing, fashion and imitation jewelry began in the 17th century. The travelers who came to ancient India were very surprised to see the gems here.(2)

Domingo Paes, was a Portuguese traveler who in his chronological records wrote about the kingdom of Vijayanagara in India, The guests who came there were absolutely astonished to see the ornaments worn by the Indian people in a meeting there. “Tribal ornaments are made entirely by hand, and most specimens depict flowers and animals from the region or symbols related to a deity.

Tribals live in isolated, remote and backward areas such as mountains or forests. The condition of education and health there is very backward. Their contact with other cultures is only in name. They are randomly scattered all over the country and there is great variation among them. India is the only country after Africa where there is such a dense population of tribal community. 75 tribal communities have been identified in different regions of India. For Indian tribal and ethnic jewellery selective, grounded and fashion-reflecting are some of the adjectives that may be used for tribal jewellery. Artistic, pure and evergreen are the hallmarks of ethnic jewellery.

Even in old times the tribes made very imaginative, Jewellery necklaces, bangles, earrings and some unique items such as coils, earrings for the nose and lips, and rings for the thumb. Most of the indigenous tribesmen were poor and plundered by colonial forces, so their selection of raw materials for ornaments was very limited such as conch shells, claws, animal jaws, ivory, wood, leaves, feathers, leather, flowers, etc. Despite this, the tribal artisans used to make splendid jewellery. It has been observed that the people of some tribes did not have full clothes to wear but they had plenty of ornaments on their bodies.(3)

Characteristic of tribal jewellery from different Indian states

India is a country which is known all over the world for its tradition, culture, dress and jewellery. There are many such tribes in India, which have their own unique style.

  • Bastar– The tribes of Bastar, a district in Madhya Pradesh, make jewellery from grass and pearls. Intricate ornaments and objects made of silver, wood, glass, peacock feathers, copper and wild flowers are also famous. They are also involved in coin jewellery.
  • Khasi, Jaintia and Garo– The tribal people living in the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo regions have a good and sophisticated understanding of the art of jewelery. Necklaces and glasses of thick red coral beads of the Khasi and Jaintias of the Garo tribe, tied with fine thread, etc., present quite a beautiful specimen. The most different thing about the people of the Khasi tribal community is that they are not recognized by the father, but by the mother like in other societies.
  • Bhutia– The Bhutia tribe belonging to Sikkim is also known for creating attractive and intricate, beautiful designs of jewellery. They usually use gold, silver, coral and turquoise for their jewellery. Both Bhutia men and women are culturally fond of gold and only 24 carat gold is used exclusively in making Bhutia jewellery.
  • Nomadic– Banjara are a nomadic tribe of Rajasthan who are popular for their colorful and heavy jewellery. Among the jewelry made by this tribe are shells, metal-mesh, coins, beads and chains to make beautiful jewelry and belts. This tribe offers a wonderful collection of earrings, bracelets, bangles, amulets, anklets.
  • Wacho Tribe– The tribal of Arunachal Pradesh incorporates naturally available resources such as seeds, beetles, feathers, bamboo and cane to decorate their ornaments. Karka Galong Tribe : The women of this group adorn the immaculately crafted coils of iron rings as earrings to complement the metal embossed leather belts. Also their ornamentation is heavily studded with pearls.
  • Agami Tribes- The Nagaland men of this tribal group decorate their hair with green ferns and leaves. It gives a very natural look and shows the closeness of nature and its surroundings.
  • Himachali tribe– Himachali oval anklets, iron-headed bangles and ornate daggers are very popular all over the world for their uniqueness. In addition, traditional collars such as silver hansalis, silver chokers called kachas and silver bangles filled with shellac are commonly worn by the hill women of Himachal. Apart from its aesthetics, Himachalis believe that silver jewelery protects the decorator from evil spirits.
  • Hill Maria Tribes- Traditionally, the tribal jewellers of Chhattisgarh used copper wire, brass and iron (now , gold and silver) with natural seed , bone or wooden ornamentation, as a kind of plaque, collar, Lace, square-bar was for preparing anklets, trickets, rings. and many more. Conical twin-top earrings and nose rings from the Hill Maria tribe are quite popular.
  • Tribes of Maukhali- Bengali Tikli (worn on forehead), Kan (traditional earrings), Chik (gold choker), Hansuli, Mantasha and Dokra are known for their exemplary craftsmanship. These jewellery are made using gold, silver, precious stones as well as wooden beads and all are exquisite in style.
  • Halba tribe– This group of tribes use metals like gold, silver, brass and aluminum to make Sundar Khosa (a beautiful lock of braid), Khinwas (for ear piercing) and Phuli (for nose piercing). Also, tattoo ornaments are very common among the people of this tribal group.
  • Santhal Tribe– They are tribe of Bihar, Filigree motif earrings, kardhani (worn around the waist) and chuda bangles of Santhal are the symbols of ethnicity. Also, her shimmering jhumkis are popular all over the world.
  • Konda Kapu Tribe– The Konda Kapu tribe, Karnataka, uses silver and copper coins to make stunning jewellery. Since these ornaments are made using old Indian coins, they are always sought after by antique collectors. Necklaces made of 25 paise and 50 paise coins are usually worn by the women of the group.

Contemporary trends of Traditional Tribal jewellery

Jewellery used by different tribes of India is coming to light these days. Each tribe has retained its own unique style of jewellery. Tribal jewelry has actually crossed the rural boundary and has reached among the urban elite who use it as junk jewellery. Other traditional jewelry that is used in India are jewelry made from silver, platinum, ivory and some indigenous articles. Jewellery in India is diverse and has changed over different time periods. New forms of jewellery have enriched the Indian jewellery stock, but have not yet completely replaced the old forms.

Tribal jewellery is no longer confined to the close tribal communities. People all over the world are attracted by the beauty of this type of jewelry and the simple yet extraordinary designs. You can see that people from all corners of the world are using tribal jewellery in their daily lives. Today, you have a wide variety of tribal jewellery choices to choose from. You can wear the tribal necklace every day and pair it with light colors in your wardrobe. The simplistic appeal of tribal jewellery is what makes it so attractive.

Similarly, you can wear a colorful, traditional, beaded bracelet or bangles with any simple saree or suit. A light tribal beaded necklace can also be carried to give it a more tribal look. Modern-contemporary style can be worn with such beautiful traditional tribal designs.

Fashion keeps on changing with the times and nowadays tribal fashion is very much in trend. Especially youth girls follow the tribal trend a lot. These days the tribal look is quite popular from earrings to sarees. People like this style a lot, so you will find many such things online as well. These people like it very much and often you will also see people especially college going students. Tribal style prints are also very much liked.

There are some categories of tribal fashion trend with new names:

  • Earrings: Tribal earrings are very much liked by the people and at the same time their specialty is that they look good in all types of traditional or trendy looks. They also give a very nice and different look as compared to the rest of the accessories. These are easily available online and in the local market as well.
  • Tribal Print Dress: Western dresses of tribal print are also very much liked. They give a fusion look and at the same time these prints look very trendy too. Tribal print western dresses are especially well-liked. Celebrities especially like this print very much.
  • Tribal Boho Bangle: Tribal Boho Bangle is also very much liked. They give a very different look and look very trendy at the same time. It is also very much liked on western to traditional clothes. Boho bangles can also be worn as a bracelet or bracelet.
  • Brooches: Looks great in silk clothes, sherwanis or saris. But at the same time, tribal brooches are very much in trend these days. They give a very different look from the traditional brooches and also attract attention.
  • Swarovski: Nowadays Swarovski stone is very much in trend. This stone is beautiful to look at as well as comes within the budget. Shiny neckpieces, ear rings, danglers and rings made from it can give you a different look this summer.
  • Single and double pendants: It is also very popular among young girls. Girls can wear it in their office or college also. Also, by wearing it in any party, you can give a royal look to your simple dress.
  • Pink and green aqua: The pink and green aqua that is getting the most favors this season. Ear cuffs and bracelets made from them are making their own identity among the people.
  • Evergreen gold: It is also known as old is gold because the importance of old things never diminishes. Feather-shaped jewelry and vintage pearl jewelry can give you a different look, drawn from Greek mythology and Victorian era.
  • Tassels: Nowadays, Jewellery made of a special type of material is being seen a lot, it is called tassels. Danglers, ear cuffs and chokers made from it are popular among Indian women these days.
  • Oxidized Jewellery trend: It is usually made of sterling silver, which is environmentally friendly and does not lose its color for a long time. It is silver in color and does not shine. These unique ornaments of subdued shade are very much in trend these days. Their blackness comes due to the formation of silver sulfide with sulfur. These jewelry never need to be cleaned and polished. During the wedding ceremony rituals, peoples mostly like to wear traditional clothes and a lot of ornaments. All our makeup is incomplete without jewellery. We wear these ornaments of gold, but now more imitation jewelry i.e. trendy jewellery has come in fashion than gold jewellery.

Impact of New technologies on Tribal Jewellery
In today’s time technology has advanced in a big way and it has affected the jewellery industry in many ways. Including the method of designing new jewelry and the process of making jewellery. There have been new technological advances such as 3D printing, a process in which a 3D model is created from electronic thought using a computer-aided design program. 3D printing has dramatically changed the way jewelry is designed and manufactured, without using any traditional bench skills to create jewellery pieces. Simultaneously, with the advent of the Internet and mass media, social media, costumes and jewellery can be seen closely in every corner of the country and abroad. It have also been able to get to know the Tribal community through films and movies and have been able to add to their outfits.

Tribal Jewellery was earlier just a simple art form, which was limited to only those communities, but today it has become the choice and welcomed by all communities, all types of people from all parts of the world. India is a country which is known all over the world for its tradition, culture, dress and jewellery. Indian women who are fond of jewelry often become the center of attraction with their jewelry, but wearing heavy jewelry in today’s season is not everyone’s thing. Everyone wants to wear beautiful jewelry of less weight. Tribal Jewellery has also become the trend of the modern era. Silver colored chunky and bold necklaces, rings and jhumkis are alluring women in modern era.

Article have been contributed by Prerna Sharma & Dimple Khokhar, Research scholar, Fashion Designing, RIMT University, Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab.


  1. Chaudhuri, Bhddhadeb (ed). (1992), Tribal Transformation in India,Vol. I, New Delhi: Inter-India Publications.
  2. Chauhan, Abha (1990), Tribe Women and Social Change in India. A.C. Brothers, Etawah.
  3. Madan, T.N. (1951), Education of Tribal India, Eastern Anthropologist Vol.V (4) pp. 179-82
  4. Oppi Untracht ., Traditional Jewelry of India Paperback – Import, 26 Aug 2008
  5. Radhakrishna R and C. Ravi (2004), Malnutrition in India: Trends and Determinants, Economic and Political Weekly: 39 (9): pp.671-676.
  6. Rath Govinda Chandra (2006), Tribal Development in India, The Contemporary Debate, Sage Publications, New Delhi.
  7. Vidyarthi, L.P. and Rai, B.K. (1977), The Tribal Culture of India.Concept Publishing Company, Delhi.

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