Ever since the time with the inception of the human race, jewellery has been used as a universal form of expression to express oneself. Jewellery is a form of visual communication. Jewellery presence has been marked across the different era, civilizations, and cultures across various continents. The archives of jewellery can be traced 5000 years ago.
Since prehistoric times, before precious metals were discovered, humans use a great variety of shells, animal-fish bones and teeth, coloured pebbles, animal skins, animal horns and bird feathers for enough self-decoration as jewellery.
Evidence shows the jewellery archives found in Mesopotamia from different metal inlaid with brightly coloured stones. Both men and women wore gold jewellery in Sumerian civilization. Jewellery designing was intricate and shapes like leaves, bunches of grapes, spiral, sphere were used.
In ancient Greece and Rome, elaborated ornamental jewellery was worn. It was made up of assorted precious metal and sometimes clay. Precious metal jewellery was worn by the people of the upper class to symbolize the social hierarchy. Functionally, brooches were used prominent to keep the clothes together.
During ancient Egypt civilization, jewellery was chiefly worn by the affluent class to symbolize their wealth, power and status in society. Gold regarded as the most precious metal even afterlife. Gold was highly popular for its rarity and luxury. The breakthrough discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, 18th dynasty, 1539–1292 BCE, exposed the biggest collection of gold and jewellery in the world in the pharaoh’s innermost coffin chamber. It contained bracelets, earrings, necklaces, amulets, pendants, and rings are of outstanding quality and a high degree of sophisticated refined jewellery design.
Mesoamerican wore jewellery but only nobility was allowed, and the more they wore, the higher prestigious rank they hold. Gold jewellery was common in an Aztec culture highly decorated with Quetzal bird feathers. For sacrifice to appease the god, Aztecs used jewellery. Mayan jewellery was typically made from gold, jade, silver, copper and bronze.
Archives of jewellery and ornaments are available across Asia. In ancient China, people wore jewellery of all classes. Ancient Chinese considered jewellery as a symbol of wealth and status also the talisman to protect the wearer. Jade and silver held the highest regard as the precious metal
Indus valley civilization was prospered and advanced. It gives the first archives of jewellery wearing by the people. Many idols and statues unearthed demonstrated the jewellery presence during the Indus valley civilization. Jewellery counted as a protective, auspicious and royal ornament. Later the Mughal Empire influenced the combination of gemstones with gold and silver. Pure gold considered a sacred metal signifying immortality due to its non-corrosive properties.
It’s clearly evident that jewellery functions as the symbol of wealth and status. The archives of jewellery suggest the purpose of jewellery has evolved over the cultural contexts wherein the essence remains the same.
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