Badagas, especially the women, have some exotic and unique personal jewellery
Dedicated to the memory of the Great Badaga Leader Rao Bahadur H B Ari Gowder
Website of Wing commander Bellie Jayaprakash
It was a chance but a wonderful meeting with Mrs.Gangamma Hethe , aged 78 years, wife of late Kari Gowder [Keben - Kotagiri ] and daughter of Karibajja Kari Gowde of Pedduva - Kallatti who was associated with Rao Bahadur Ari Gowder [Kootuda Ari Gowda maathau aadina endale , ella bae muchindu unnippa ortara endu appa hegina', [ My dad used to say that when Ari Gowda spoke in meetings, everyone would listen to him very intensely, she remembers ], at Mettupalayam a few days back in Feb,2007,.... which made me ponder and wonder about Badaga Jewellery for she was wearing the traditional 'chinna & mookkuthi' and offered me the opportunity to take her snaps with the unique Badaga ornaments of nose ring and ear rings. To my great pleasure, she also has the typical tattoo on her forehead called ‘ ASALU /ASILU ‘ a tradition which is completely extinct now. She told me that the tattooing was done when she was twelve and done by her mother. The soot at the bottom of mud pots used for cooking in those days, was scrapped on the rim of a silver finger ring and the circular impression was first made on her forehead before being ‘pricked’ with a needle, she says. “ Madekkeya pitti eendhu masiya belli ungaradhoge ujji nethiga haakki , adu mele soonjiya kuthidha awai. Appara urichidhamane krichi butte..adutha asilu ollagenge kuthule” (Since it hurt a lot I cried out in pain and Mom did not prick deeper and hence the tattoo is lighter).
Notice the 'Asilu' - two rings with dots in the center
It is with a great sense of honour that I present her pictures to highlight about Badaga jewellery. Thank you Gangamma Hethe !
The main ornaments are the nose ring called ‘ MOOKUTHI ‘ and the ear ring known as ‘ CHINNA ‘ . Chinna , literaly means gold but usually refers to ear rings. The type shown below is worn both by men and women.
Perhaps, it would be an interesting topic to research why Badagas have chosen these particular designs for nose and ear rings that have not undergone any changes in ages. Is it due to their simple but very beautiful get up or are there some great hidden stories?
Badaga women also [used to] wear a kind of chocker called “ SARATTADI “ that is a short chain around the neck with a biggish pendant. Then, of course is the ‘ SERUPPANIGE ‘ a silver long chain with coins fixed around. The other long chain with silver beads is ‘ GUBBIGE MANI ‘.
The picture of a Badaga woman [dark blue blouse – left extreme] was taken by late Chantal Boulanger-Maloney [she was a social anthropologist specializing in Indian culture and I thank her husband Peter Maloney for permitting me to use it. You can see more pictures on Badaga by Chantal in her website . The pix in the center is that of Mrs.Gowri wife of Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder and at right extreme is Mrs. Nanji wife of Rao Bahadur HJ Bellie Gowder and mother of Ari Gowder. These pictures are chosen to show the ‘ SARATTADI ‘.
The bangle or rather bracelet around the wrist is known as ‘ KADAGA ‘ [ Sikh gentlemen wear a bangle called 'KADA' ] and the thick flat armlet just above the elbow made out of gold or silver is ‘ BAE ‘
Then, there are the anklelets called ‘ GOLASU ‘ for girls and ‘ GAGGERE ‘for boys.
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