Bangles are rigid bracelets, usually from metal, wood, or plastic. They are traditional ornaments worn mostly by South Asian women in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a common tradition to see a new bride wearing glass bangles at her wedding and the honeymoon will end when the last bangle breaks. Bangles also have a very traditional value in Hinduism and it is considered inauspicious to be bare armed for a married woman. Toddler to older woman could wear bangles based on the type of bangles. Bangles made of gold or silver are preferred for toddlers.
Some men wear a single bangle on the arm or wrist called kada or kara. In Sikhism, the father of a Sikh bride will give the groom a gold ring, a kara (steel or iron bangle), and a mohra. Chooda is a kind of bangle that is worn by Punjabi women on her wedding day. It is a set of white and red bangles with stone work. According to tradition, a woman is not supposed to buy the bangles she will wear.
Moradabad is India's largest producer of bangles.
Bangles—made from sea shell, copper, bronze, gold, agate, chalcedony etc.—have been excavated from multiple archaeological sites throughout India. A figurine of a dancing girl—wearing bangles on her left arm— has been excavated from Mohenjo-daro (2600 BC).
Other early examples of bangles in India include copper samples from the excavations at Mahurjhari—soon followed by the decorated bangles belonging to the Mauryan empire (322–185 BCE), and the gold bangle samples from the historic site of Taxila (6th century BCE). Decorated shell bangles have also been excavated from multiple Mauryan sites. Other features included copper rivets and gold-leaf inlay in some cases.
Bangles are circular in shape, and, unlike bracelets, are not flexible. The word is derived from Hindi bungri (glass). They are made of numerous precious as well as non-precious materials such as gold, silver, platinum, glass, wood, ferrous metals, plastic, etc. Bangles made from sea shell, which are white colour, are worn by married Bengali and Oriya Hindu women. A special type of bangle is worn by women and girls, especially in the Bengal area, commonly known as a "Bengali bangle", which is used as a substitute for a costly gold bangle, and is produced by fixing a thin gold strip (weighing between 1–3 g) is thermo-mechanically fused onto a bronze bangle, followed by manual crafting on that fused gold strip.
Bangles are part of traditional Indian jewellery. They are usually worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. Most Indian women prefer wearing either gold or glass bangles or combination of both. Inexpensive bangles made from plastic are slowly replacing those made by glass, but the ones made of glass are still preferred at traditional occasions such as marriages and on festivals.
The designs range from simple to intricate handmade designs, often studded with precious and semi-precious stones such as diamonds, gems and pearls. Sets of expensive bangles made of gold and silver make a jingling sound. The imitation jewellery tends to make a tinny sound when jingled.
Types of bangles
There are two basic types of bangles: a solid cylinder type; and a split, cylindrical spring opening/closing type. The primary distinguishing factor between these is the material used to make the bangles. This may vary from anything from glass to jade to metal to lac and even rubber or plastic.
One factor that adds to the price of the bangles is the artifacts or the work done further on the metal. This includes embroidery or small glass pieces or paintings or even small hangings that are attached to the bangles. The rareness of a color and its unique value also increase the value. Bangles made from lac are one of the oldest ones and among the brittle category too. Lac is material which is molded in hot kilns-like places to make these bangles. Among the recent entrants are the rubber bangles that are worn more like a wrist band by youngsters while the plastic ones are there to add a trendy look.
Normally, a bangle worn by people around the world is simply an inflexible piece of jewelry worn around the wrist. However, in many cultures, especially in the South Asia, bangles have evolved into various types in which different ones are used at different occasions.
- Hyderabad, India has a historic world famous market for bangles named Laad Bazaar.
- Glass bangles are mostly produced in the old Indian city of Firozabad in North India.
- Pakistan glass bangles are produced mainly in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Bangles are usually made of glass, gold, metal, plastic, rubber, silver or wood.
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- Ghosh, page 224
- Ghosh, page 83
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- Ghosh, Amalananda (1990). An Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology. Brill. ISBN 90-04-09264-1.