The nose ring, or nath, has been a revered piece of jewellery in India for centuries.
While many historians believe the nath originated in Middle East and was introduced to Indians by the Moghuls, there is some evidence that dates back the nath to 5,000 years ago as depicted on the Goddess Parvati and Lord Krishna.
What we do know is that more recently the nath gained popularity in the 9th and 10th century and became an important part of symbolising the marital status of women. Wives of kings, ministers and wealthy families wore beautiful gold naths studded with pearls, sapphire and kundan as a display of their wealth and high economic status.
The golden ornament saw variations of size and design as its popularity grew in the 15th century and has continued to evolve since.
The symbolism of the nath varies by culture and region in India. In Maharashtra, women generally wear one large nath that covers the side of the face. Bengali women, on the other hand, prefer the septum piercing (in the middle of the nose). In the North-East region, Kumaon or Garhwal women share a passion for wearing these embellished golden naths on their wedding day.
Of all the beautiful naths across the nation, it is the beauty of the ‘Tehri Nath’ of Garhwal that always leaves people in awe. The garhwali naths, compared to the more petite Kumaoni naths, are giant-sized nose rings, moulded in gold, and generally embellished with elaborate designs such as motifs, peacocks and floral patterns. This precious jewel is considered to be a part of the bride’s dowry in Uttarakhand as it contains a large amount of gold as compared to other naths. It is believed to symbolise purity and represent the virginity of the bride.
Today, the nath is experiencing another revival as cultures across the globe are embracing India’s much-loved nose rings. The golden rings are not only a piece of precious metal that a woman wears, but also has precious emotions attached.