Bharatanatyam, the pre-eminent Indian classical dance form, Bharata Natyam, is regarded as the mother of many other classical dance forms in India.
The style of dressing of a Bharatanatyam dancer is more or less similar to that of a Tamil Hindu bride. A beautifully designed silk saree is worn by her, which consists of specially woven cloth with pleats that fall in front of her waist. The sari is complemented by traditional jewellery. This adorns her head known as nethi chutti, nose known as mukkutti, ear known as jimikki and small chains known as mattals. In addition, on her neck, a short neckpiece is known as attikai and a long chain known as malai, waist known as ottiyanam.
Kemp temple jewellery, made of red and green stones is the most common jewellery used in Bharatanatyam, followed by pearl jewellery and antique gold temple jewellery.
Let us see Bharatanatyam jewellery in detail:
1.Head jewellery or the nethi chutti (in native language) : This headpiece also known as maang tikka in north India, is worn along with 2 brooches on either side of the hair partition which represent the sun and moon in this classical dance form.
2.Nose jewellery or mukkutti and bullakku (in native language) : To add grace, Bharatanatyam dancers adorn this piece of jewellery on her nose, which is known as mukkutti and bullakku.
3. Ear Jewellery: Beautiful Jimmikis (Jhumkas) and small chains known as Mattals (ear chains) are attached to these earrings to add a heavier look to the dancer. These Mattals can be easily pinned in the hair.
4. Attractive neckpieces: Neckpieces can vary as per the choice of the dancers. However, a shorter neckpiece is usually worn with a longer one. While the shorter one is known as attikai, the longer one is termed malai. Here as well, temple jewellery will be the first choice followed by pearl or gold jewellery.
5. Arms, wrists and waist: Bharatnatyam performers wear armlets and bangles as per their role and choice. Additionally, they wear a waist belt called Ottiyanam.
6. Ankle Bells: Also referred to as Salangai, Ghungroos are an utterly essential and vital part of Indian Classical Dance, and they are the primary ornament and instrument that dancers must wear before practicing and performing. Ghungroo helps dancers to maintain the rhythm of their steps and movements and likewise gives a melodious sound to the dance, enhancing the beauty of their art form. It is also used to keep track of the dancer's movements and to ensure that their steps and poses are in sync with the music. It emphasizes and intensifies the rhythmic percussion that is produced by the Ghungroo while attempting and performing any footwork or dance. They are made of small metal bells, mostly of brass, strung together to form a musical anklet.
A Bharatanatyam jewellery set can be purchased here. You can also buy the ornament head set, ottiyanam (kemp belt), nose pin, neck jewellery and ghungaroo separately. Additionally, one can find a variety of other Kemp accessories including a waist belt, earrings and mang tikka. It is also commonly used for bridal jewellery in south Indian weddings.