(Last Updated on : 30/03/2012)
Earrings are considered as the most commonly used form of fashion jewellery in India that is worn both by men and women. But in ancient times, earrings were worn only by women. Slowly as society started modernising towards appropriate civilization, the concept of 'self adornment' caught up with the multitude- people started using animal bones and wood as jewellery. In India, earrings changed in outward structure from large dangling ones to medium and small sized earrings that are worn as studs.
The history of earrings in India originated as a tradition since ancient times. It is said that wearing earrings along with the animistic origins of the Saiva and other Indo-Aryan religions, are of great antiquity. There is a clear example regarding the origin of the purpose of wearing earrings as an animistic fetish. Evidences have been found in the practice of the Kanphata Yogis of India. The Kanphata Yogis are a sub-sect of the Saiva ascetics. They were named as 'Kanphata Yogis' from their practice of 'splitting their ears and placing a large earring made of agate, horn or glass, about two and a quarter ounces in weight, in the ear as a symbol of their initiation'. Later on, earrings acquired recognition and were turned into a fashion accessory. They finally grew into a tradition. Earrings were also considered a symbol of slavery.
There are some superstitions regarding the origin of earrings:
to legend, evil spirits were thought to possess the capability of entering the body through any of its openings and they usually took control of the entire body. In all likelihood, the first ever earrings were worn to block the passageway of these spirits.
According to another myth
, pierced earrings help to strengthen weak eyes. If the earrings are studded with emeralds, they are particularly effective. Gold earrings are efficacious in curing headaches. In spite of the fact, for the purpose of curing headaches, some are of the opinion to wear one gold earring and another silver.
In the days of sailing
ships and pirates, if a man survived a shipwreck, he would wear an earring, typically a 'gold hoop'. The definitive pirate image owes its source from this myth.
According to a historian's
attribute, the piercing denotes the 'desire to punish the ears for overhearing what they should not hear'. In turn, the earrings were a solacement for pain and suffering. It was believed that the greater the consolation, the more decorative and expensive the earrings were.
Today, earrings come in unlikely varieties. They can be casual, formal, smart or funky. With time, the design of earrings shifted to more intricate patterns.