Tibetan jewelries

When talking about Tibetan culture and costume, it is never complete to do so without mentioning the Tibetans’ love for jewelry for hundreds of years. Unlike rest world where the jewelry is worn solely for the purpose of beautification, Tibetans believe jewelry serves as amulet to protect oneself from obstacles, and bring them good luck in return.

While the precious metals like gold and silver jewelries are all time favorites like elsewhere, Jewelry has never been worn by Tibetans just in order to beautify themselves. Jewelry in Tibet could serve as amulets, as kind of the bank, which is always with you, or as an indicator of social status.

Most jewelry made from precious metals – silver or gold – was considered auspicious and luck bringing in Tibet. In Southern Tibet it was considered bad luck for a woman to go without her hair ornaments. Up until 1950s this led to women sleeping in their enormous headdresses.

There were also a few items that were worn specifically to guard against spiritual evil such as the large ivory rings worn on the thumb of the left hand by men to protect them against witches. Tibetan belief also was that without pierced ears one risked being reborn as a donkey. This led men who normally wore one earring in the left ear to also wear a small stud of turquoise in the right.

For men jewelry and ornament were statements of their position in society. Together with his gun, sword and saddle, a man’s amulet box gau was a status symbol. If he was an official in the government he was required to wear the indicators of his rank. What was worn depended on which of the 8 levels of government officialdom he belonged to. One of the most visible insignia of office was the thin pencil-shaped earring and the stone-set, gold hat finial called shalok. The particular stone worn on the top of a hat or hat finial showed the wearer’s rank. The Prime Minister, a firs-rank official, wore a pearl at the top of his finial, the four cabinet ministers, of second rank, wore rubies while officials of the third rank, who were the heads of government departments, wore coral hat ornaments. An officials wife too had to be provided with jewelry appropriate to her husband’s rank.