As suggest many sculptures from early times to now, these designs for jewellery articles have been not only human beings’ choice but also the gods’ as many divine images – male and female, are seen putting on ornaments consisting of flower-designs. Their visual beauty apart, being associated with divinities flower-designs have always been considered as gods’ bounty to man and hence sacred and auspicious. A Meithei maiden accomplishing Radha’s role, or any, when performing Rasa, or performing in any other ritual or mythical event, shall essentially put on a necklace with flower-motifs. Some of the ornaments, such as ‘Karna-phool’ – flower for the ear, or ‘benda-phool’ – flower for forehead, are known by such names as have ‘phool’ – flower, as one of their components.
As is fundamental in all neck ornaments, besides the main part the necklace comprises on both ends a chain consisting of inter-linked rings to hold it on the neck and a hook on one end to lock it with its counterpart. The main part has been designed with forty-four principal-design units – the form of Harsingar flower known in botanical terminology as Nyctanthes arbor tristis, and forty-three loop-rings that thread them into one unit. Different from the forms of other flowers the most prominent part of a Harsingar flower is its stigma, its male part in deep red colour, something as reflects in the principal units of this necklace. The units used for joining the main units are far tinier but being in twin role : conjoining loops as also beautifully manipulating the intermediary spaces they as much contribute to the total beauty of the ornament transforming the assemblage into a tremendously charming piece of jewellery. The obverse of these loop-rings have two design-motifs alternating mutually, one being a tiny representation of a royal ‘chhatra’ – standard, and other, a ‘S’ like designed motif. Not the volume or the value of the metal as its stark simplicity and novelty of form, its ethnicity that it shares with a Naga girl’s neck ornament and its finish and precision as also the exclusiveness and fascinating look it inherits from a medieval court jewellery are the real strength of this neck-ornament.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books. .
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