The Kandyan Bridal Jewelry Set
History of the Kandyan Bridal Jewelry Set
In Sri Lanka, brides who wear the Osariya (Kandyan wedding saree) on their wedding day decorate themselves with a unique and exquisite variety of jewelry made up of over 20 pieces. The jewelry originated in South India and became popular among women belonging to the royal families during the period of the Kandyan Kingdom. The last Queen of Sri Lanka to have beautified herself with the jewelry was said to have been King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha’s wife.
Each piece of jewelry was designed using the finest gold, silver and brass and embedded with stunning jewels, such as red and pink rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls. Many people who were not royalty but who had immense wealth yearned to possess these magnificent pieces of jewelry and would hire skilled craftsmen to create them.
As time passed by, it became one of the main accessories to be worn with the Kandyan bridal wear and was given the name Udaratha Magul Aberana Katteleya. Today, it has become the most sought-after jewelry by brides who wear the Osariya on their wedding day.
How Many Pieces of Jewelry Are in the Set?
The Kandyan bridal jewelry set contains seven necklaces (Mala Hatha). Four out of the seven necklaces have pendants called padakkams. The popular designs used in a padakkam are floral patterns or designs of two or more swans interlocked at the neck. The swan (Hansa in Sinhalese) represents purity and beauty.
Listed below are the seven necklaces and the additional eight pieces of jewelry (four bangles, two earrings, one hand ornament and one chain) which make up the Kandyan bridal jewelry set.
- The Gold Pattiya Necklace
- The Four Padakkam Necklaces
- The Paalakka Bead Chain
- The Agasti Necklace
- The Pethi Necklace
- The Nalalpatiya
- The Sun and Moon (Ira Handa) for the Head
- The Seli Valalu
- The Gedi Valalau
- The Hand Ornament With Rings (Atha Mudu Walalla)
- The Dimithi Earrings
- The Havadiya
1. The Gold Pattiya Necklace
The pattiya is the shortest necklace which is similar to a choker necklace and is referred to as the 'karapati.'
This is the first necklace the bride puts around her neck.
The pendant on the pattiya necklace is similar to the pendant displayed on the nalalpatiya.
2. The Four Padakkam Necklaces
Four chains are worn along with 4 padakkams (pendants).
The pendants can be in a swan or floral design depending on the bride's preference.
3. The Paalakka Bead Chain
The paalakka bead chain is a long chain with gold colored beads.
4. The Agasti Necklace
The Agasthi necklace is called 'Agasthi Malaya' in Sinhalese and is made of agate stones.
5. The Pethi Necklace
The pethi necklace is called 'pethi maala' in Sinhalese which means flower petals.
The necklace is designed in floral petal patterns and is the longest of the 7 necklaces which may extend to the bride’s knees.
6. The Nalalpatiya
The nalalpatiya is the head jewelry of the Kandyan bride.
It is a chain made of gold or silver and draped around the head and forehead of the bride's with a piece placed along the middle of the bride's hair.
The nalalpatiya also has a large pendant displayed at its midpoint. The pendant can be seen resting at the center of the bride's forehead.
7. The Sun and Moon (Ira Handa) for the Head
The Kandyan bridal jewelry consists of two round shaped ornaments which are fixed onto either side of the head and separated by the center piece of the nalapatha.
One is engraved with the sun and the other with the moon.
The sun and moon is linked to eternity and brides wear it in the hope it helps them achieve a satisfying and long lasting marriage.
Additional Jewelry Pieces
The following are the bangles, rings, earrings and waist chain that are also worn with the set.
1. The Seli Valalu
The Seli Valalu are 2 broad bangles, one worn on each wrist.
There are two types of seli valalus: the plain ones and those decorated with tiny gemstones such as rubies.
2. The Gedi Valalau
The Gedi Valalu are 2 bangles made with agate stones.
3. The Hand Ornament With Rings (Atha Mudu Walalla)
The hand ornament is similar to a large pendant which has 5 chains connected to it.
Each chain has a ring attached to it. The 5 rings are placed on the appropriate finger when the bride wears the hand ornament.
4. The Dimithi Earrings
The earrings that are part of the Kandyan Bridal jewelry are called ‘Dimithi.’
The earrings resemble a cup which has been turned upside down. Dimithi earrings have miniature pearls suspending down from it.
5. The Havadiya
The havadiya is a chain draped across the waist of the bride.
An Expensive Set Passed Down Through Generations
The Kandyan bridal jewelry set is quite expensive. Only a handful of brides will own this fine set of bridal jewelry and usually the reason is because the jewelry pieces have been in their family for generations.
For those who don’t own a Kandyan bridal jewelry set, they will rent it or sometimes may even spend thousands of dollars in getting a set specially made from a reputed and skilled jeweler.
Would You Wear the Kandyan Bridal Jewelry Set on Your Wedding Day?
© 2012 Suranee Perera