SOLD – Antique Indian Earrings, Old Nagali Earrings, Rabari Dhebaria Earrings

SOLD – Antique Indian Earrings, Old Nagali Earrings, Rabari Dhebaria Earrings


This is a pair of early to mid 20th century traditional high grade silver earrings, Nagali, women's lobe earrings worn by married Dhebaria Rabari women. The Rabari of Pushka are nomadic people who move between Gujarat and Rajasthan.

These drop earrings are quite matched in design with the silver band across the front of the earrings, and sets of delicate bells and floral units. They have western size wires for the ears and have been recently added for wearing. There is a wax element in the earrings for weight.

There is some silver tarnish because of age and I have polished the earrings to clean them up.

Indian jewellery is particular for every cast and region. Subtle differences between Kachhi Rabaris and Dhebaria Rabari earrings illustrate how a subgroup becomes culturally distinct. Dhebaria nagla are made for earlobes that are not stretched, thus ensuring that Dhebaria women earrings cannot be given to Kachhis.

I came across an article regarding Nabla Earrings - the nabla symbol ∇ - or Snake Earrings.

We cannot be certain how long snake earrings have actually been worn by women in India, because no antique common jewellery objects remain, due to the custom of melting all ornaments when a person dies.

In Orissa and Gujarat snake earrings are called nagulu or nagali from the sandskrit. naga -snake. In Tamil Nadu the name pambadam is used, derived from the Tamil word pamba for snake.

Although the earring name refers to snakes, the shape of the ornament often does not resemble the original model very much. And even though snake worship is performed by most wearers, it is not any more connected consciously with their private adornment. The meaning and purpose of wearing a snake emblem is forgotten. With varying accentuation the emblem may stand for protection from snake bite, the wish for fertility and longevity or indicate devotion to Lord Vishnu.

The history of a population in India is often revealed by the alteration in shape of an earring type, changes which happened during the ornament’s move from one group to a related but dissimilar one. This is obvious with the nagali of Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the most abstract forms of snake earrings are found. All four existing types are of different appearance but reveal basically identical designs.

Asked for an explanation of the name of their nagali, women in Pushkar, Rajasthan, describe a mushroom which is called snake umbrella and comes out after the rains, because snakes have the habit of hiding under its hood.

The nagali earring is supposed to stand for the doubled shape of the mushroom.

The silver hook wires are a suitable size for Western ear wearing.

Please note: The last listing photo wearing the earring is taken from another pair I had but is basically the same.

Length with wire 6 cm (2 1/2" )
Weight of pair - 21 grams (0.740 oz.)
Width: 2.7 cm ( 1")
Material - Tested high grade silver 90% - 92.5% approx.

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