Published: 12 Sep 2017

Traditional gold waist-belts

Woman adorning traditional gold waist-belt

Of all the accessories, one form that exemplifies the celebration of jewellery in India is the waist-belt. Girdles have been a popular ornament since ancient times and can be seen in almost every historic image or sculpture of gods, kings and queens. Girdles encircle the attire and / or hold the bottom piece of clothing, and are constructed with gold that complements the texture of traditional outfits.

Girdles made with gold can be rigid or flexible These are also popularly known as Kardhani or Kamarband. While in South India, a rigid waist belt is called ‘Oddiyanam’ (Vaddanam), ‘Arapatta’ is the flexible one. The other names of girdle are based on the number of strings (gold or other metal) such as -

Kanchi Single string
Mekhla Eight strings
Rasana Sixteen strings
Kalapa Twenty-five strings

Golden girdles are considered as a symbol of marriage.  Additionally, it is believed by some that gold protects married women from womb related diseases.

A key-chain is another waist accessory, popularly known as Challa in the Western part of India. Traditionally, a Challa was used by women who kept the keys of tijori (family treasury). The Challa is tucked into the saree at the waist, an elegant addition to traditional attire’

Modern India has gracefully preserved its traditions; however, we love to flaunt the fusion of traditional designs with a touch of modernisation. The Kardhani is used as fashion jewellery, a belly chain which is, at times, attached with naval piercing.

Given the significance of waist-ornaments and their well-established presence in Indian culture, traditional and modern versions will always be on the “wish-list” of every Indian woman