Indian Ankle Bracelets

Rigid cast-bell-metal anklet

The ankle bracelet, or anklet, has had a prominent existence throughout history. Women from all cultures have adorned their ankles as indicators of wealth and social and marital status, as well as beautifiers. They were worn to create attraction with the opposite sex and bring attention to well-groomed feet. In fact, the use of ankle bracelets may have been the precursor to the modern pedicures, nail polish, and high heels.

Hereditary chain anklets made with gold and diamonds were given to eligible people like nobles, village leaders, and landowners as a sign of special recognition. A wearer of such an anklet was entitled in court and exempt from custom duties, search and seizures, and the criminal process. Anklets were later adopted in silver by lower classes.

In the Middle East, a pair of ankle bracelets were connected together with a short chain to shorten the female stride.

India is considered to have the most developed and richest history surrounding jewelry of the anklet.

What intrigued me most about Indian ankle bracelets like the ones shown above and below are their massive size. They were mainly made from cast metals, which only adds to their weight and presence. In addition, the atypical forms of these anklets make me question their comfort practicality. Often times, wearers would have to get the anklets hammered shut directly around their ankles by a blacksmith. Beauty is pain. In fact, they were so immense, heavy anklets caused discomfort and injury. Women had to tie rags round their legs to protect the skin.  

Untacht, Oppi. Traditional Jewelry of India. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1997. Print. p. 270-276.



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