From Our Jewellery Boxes

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Indians have a historical fondness for jewelleries, or more specifically gold jewelleries. The plethora of choices available to bedeck oneself is overwhelming. The intricacy of the craftsmanship speaks volume about the dedication of the goldsmiths towards their craft. Owing to gold’s perceived asset value ornaments made of this precious metal are highly coveted but Indians do appreciate other less expensive and equally painstakingly crafted jewelleries made of copper, cotton thread, shells, lac, glass beads studded with precious and semi–precious stones. Even fresh flowers and green leaves are also used to embellish hair, neck, arms and waistline.

Elaborate jewelleries in the sculptures – Somnath Temple:

somnathtemple

Though changing socio–economic condition and increasing exposure to different cultures have resulted in changing tastes in jewelleries yet one piece of jewellery almost universally worn by Indian women (and sometimes men) remained to be ear ornaments. There again each region has its own specialty and borrows heavily from the culture and history of the place.

Jhumkas or chandelier earrings are prized possession for any Indian girl with the more elaborate ones reserved for her marriage ceremonies. Jhumkas are could be multi–layered, studded with gemstones, peals and crystals resembling various floral and avian (peacocks are the favourite ones) motifs. While Jhumkas with Meenakari (sophisticated decoration with enamel dust) is the hallmark of Rajastan, their South Indian counterparts almost always come with kaan (ornate ear shaped support to hold up the weight of the metal).

Painting of Raja Ravi Varma of woman wearing Jhumka and Karwari Nath:

R_Varma_Lady_Holding_Fruit

For daily uses stud or bangle earrings are preferred. These also merge easily with office attire and if stylised properly enhances the look with subtlety. Both of these though have more illustrious varieties fit for wearing in various social dos. Kaan Bala (bangle for ears), made of circles of varying radii and decoration, are favourite pieces of ear ornaments among the Bengalis. Kaan Pasha on the other hand is a ornate form of stud earrings.

Jadau and Kundan earrings are dependent on uncut gemstones, including diamonds, rubies and emeralds, to accentuate its beauty. Skilled craftsmen of Rajasthan and Hyderabad boast of making these fine pieces. The process of making Jadau and Kundan is considered to have originated in Varanasi centuries ago and before becoming a featured item in the jewellery boxes of Mughal emperors and empresses.

Temple Jewelleries are inspired by sculptures and carvings of temples across India and ear rings made following this philosophy often feature Hindu deities. Apart from precious metal and gemstones holy beads of rudraksha are also used in crafting these pieces.

Examples of Temple Jewellery – a necklace made of precious metal and rudraksha beads and bangles:

temple-jewellery

Geometric shapes are seen in Thewa earrings belonging western part of the country. These jewelleries are often crafted with silver, terracotta and / or crystals making them more affordable. Traditional Kolhapuri designs include the intricacies of sun’s rays and the tenderness of flower buds into their designs.

Exquisitely crafted jewelleries such as these are genuine ode to true beauty even if you contradict saying a truly graceful face does not require any further embellishments. Moreover, by opting for a piece of ornament as these, today’s women unconsciously become beads in time’s Mohan Mala (necklace) that it started stringing no less than five millennia ago.

For though we never spoke – The Life & Time of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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June 29 marks the 154th death anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She was born on March 6, 1806 in county Durham to Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett and Mary Graham Clarke. The Barretts were wealthy and Elizabeth’s early childhood spent with her eleven siblings in their family estate of Herefordshire were comfortable. She revealed her literary aspirations early in her life. Her father admired her efforts and on her 14th birthday presented her with 50 printed copies of her poetry.
About this time Elizabeth also started showing signs of a failing health. A mystery disease that remained undetected during her lifetime started plaguing her. She contacted lung infections in her early days which also showed sings of recurrence. Her illness often used to make her dizzy and morphine was of no use to subdue her pain that spread across her spine and head. She started becoming dependent on a opium concoction to alleviate her physical discomfort.
Elizabeth’s courtship and eventual marriage to Robert Browning in 1840s did not go down well with the family. Her father disinherited her from the property and her brothers severed ties with her. Elizabeth moved to Italy with her husband Robert Browning and her loyal nurse since childhood. Robert Browning was well known in Italy, did have earnings of his own to sustain his family. Together Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning shared an amicable relationship. Both the conviviality at home and the warmer climate of Italy had a positive effect on Elizabeth’s health.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew and was friendly with many of the prominent authors of the day. This included such personalities as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Makepeace Thackeray, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle, Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Sand. She vehemently campaigned for the abolition of slavery, a curse that she was well aware of owing to her ancestral connection to the plantations of Jamaica.

Elizabeth_Barrett_Browning

We walked beside the sea,
After a day which perished silently
Of its own glory – like the Princess weird
Who, combating the Genius, scorched and seared,
Uttered with burning breath, ‘Ho! victory!’
And sank adown, an heap of ashes pale;
So runs the Arab tale.

The sky above us showed
An universal and unmoving cloud,
On which, the cliffs permitted us to see
Only the outline of their majesty,
As master–minds, when gazed at by the crowd!
And, shining with a gloom, the water grey
Swang in its moon–taught way.

Nor moon nor stars were out.
They did not dare to tread so soon about,
Though trembling, in the footsteps of the sun.
The light was neither night’s nor day’s, but one
Which, life–like, had a beauty in its doubt;
And Silence’s impassioned breathings round
Seemed wandering into sound.

O solemn–beating heart
Of nature! I have knowledge that thou art
Bound unto man’s by cords he cannot sever–
And, what time they are slackened by him ever,
So to attest his own supernal part,
Still runneth thy vibration fast and strong,
The slackened cord along.

For though we never spoke
Of the grey water anal the shaded rock,–
Dark wave and stone, unconsciously, were fused
Into the plaintive speaking that we used,
Of absent friends and memories unforsook;
And, had we seen each other’s face, we had
Seen haply, each was sad.

Painting by Pierre–Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919)twofigures

The Road Through Chaos by Alfred Noyes

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The Road Through Chaos by Alfred Noyes (16th September, 1880 – 28th June, 1958)

I

There is one road, one only, to the Light:
A narrow way, but Freedom walks therein;
A straight, firm road through Chaos and old Night,
And all these wandering Jack-o-Lents of Sin.

It is the road of Law, where Pilate stays
To hear, at last, the answer to his cry;
And mighty sages, groping through their maze
Of eager questions, hear a child reply.

Truth? What is Truth? Come, look upon my tables.
Begin at your beginnings once again.
Twice one is two! Though all the rest be fables,
Here’s one poor glimpse of Truth to keep you sane.

For Truth, at first, is clean accord with fact,
Whether in line or thought, or word, or act.

II

Then, by those first, those clean, precise, accords,
Build to the Lord your temples and your song;
The curves of beauty, music’s wedded chords
Resolving into heaven all hate and wrong.

Let harmonies of colour marry and follow
And breaking waves in a rhythmic dance ensue;
And all your thought fly free as the wings of the swallow,
Whose arrowy curves obey their measure, too.

Then shall the marching stars and tides befriend you,
And your own heart, and the world’s heart, pulse in rhyme;
Then shall the mob of the passions that would rend you
Crown you their Captain and march on in time.

So shall you repossess your struggling soul,
Conquer your world, and find the eternal goal.

Nike_of_Samothrake

 

Life & It’s Witness

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Michael Jackson

Life bears us on like the stream of a mighty river. Our boat at first glides down the narrow channel through the playful murmurings of the little brook, and the winding of the grassy borders. The trees shed their blossoms over our young heads, the flowers on the brink seem to offer themselves to our young hands; we are happy in hope, and we grasp eagerly at the beauties around us; but the stream hurries us on, and still our hands are empty. Our course in youth and manhood is along a wilder and deeper flood, amid objects more striking and magnificent. We are animated at the moving pictures of enjoyment and industry passing around us. We are excited at some short–lived disappointment. The stream bears us on, and our joys and griefs are alike left behind us. We may be shipwrecked – we cannot be delayed; whether rough or smooth, the river hastens to its home, till the roar of the ocean is in our ears, and the tossing of the waves is beneath our feet, and the land lessens from our eyes, and the floods are lifted up around us, and we take our leave of earth and its inhabitants, until of our further voyage there is no witness save the Infinite and Eternal.

~Reginald Heber (via It’s Quoted)

Digital artwork by me.

When your head did but ache

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Rihard_Jakopič_-_Luna

 

When your head did but ache,
I knit my handkerchief about your brows,
The best I had, a princess wrought it me,
And I did never ask it you again;
And with my hand at midnight held your head,
And, like the watchful minutes to the hour,
Still and anon cheer’d up the heavy time,
Saying, “What lack you?” and, “Where lies your grief?”

William Shakespeare

 

Awake My Soul by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

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Anna Laetitia Barbauld (June 20, 1743 – March 9, 1825)

Awake, my soul! lift up thine eyes,
See where thy foes against thee rise,
In long array, a numerous host;
Awake, my soul! or thou art lost.
Here giant Danger threatening stands
Mustering his pale terrific bands;
There Pleasure’s silken banners spread,
And willing souls are captive led.
See where rebellious passions rage,
And fierce desires and lusts engage;
The meanest foe of all the train
Has thousands and ten thousands slain.

Thou tread’st upon enchanted ground,
Perils and snares beset thee round;
Beware of all, guard every part,
But most, the traitor in thy heart.
“Come then, my soul, now learn to wield
The weight of thine immortal shield;”
Put on the armour from above
Of heavenly truth and heavenly love.
The terror and the charm repel,
And powers of earth, and powers of hell;
The Man of Calvary triumphed here;
Why should his faithful followers fear?

Painting by Nikolay Bogdanov Belsky

girl-with-latern-nikolay-bogdanov-belsky

 

 

My heart knows no rest nor respite

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Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941)

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The work that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.
Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

Painting by Jamini Roy (April 11, 1887 – April 24, 1972)

Lord Krishna-Jamini Roy

 

 

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