The study of Indian jewellery and ornaments has been a long felt desideratum. There is hardly a work dealing with this subject in any systematic order. Hitherto what has been done in this regard, is mainly related to the wealth of sculptures of a given area or place such as the Amaravati sculpture in the Government Museum, Madras, a cultural study of the sculptures from Nagarjunakonda or that from Ajanta and so on and so forth. These studies on their part, have no doubt taken into account enough jewels or ornaments which figure there; an independent study centred only on the ornaments has hardly come into light.
The theme of the present work is a welcome contribution to this aspect. Here, for the first time, both literature and art have been dealt with side by side while ascertaining the antiquity and the usage of nupura-the anklet, as an ornament. The contribution of the present work is also important in the fact that it considers for the first time all the synonyms of the nupura as an ornament, either referred to in the works of classical Sanskrit literature or as prevalent now in the indigeneous tongues or dialects. Apart from the stereotyped studies, the work, very clearly points out the insufficiency of the English language, which invariably translated every variety of nupura as an anklet only. The superb treatment of such a small theme like nupura as an ornament itself speaks for the highly specialized nature of this work.
SP. Tewari (b. 1944) obtained his Master's Degree in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology with merit from the Lucknow University (1969). He joined the National Museum, New Delhi in 1971 and worked there till 1976. Presently he is with the Epigraphy Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India at Mysore, in the capacity of Deputy Superintending Epigraphist specializing in the Sanskritic and North Indian inscriptions.
A recipient of the Netherlands Government Reciprocal Fellowship (1973-76) Tewari has pursued advanced studies in the field of South East Asian Art and Archaeology at the University of Amsterdam. During his long stay in Europe he has visited almost all the Museums of repute and studied the collection of Indian Art there. In Europe he has lectured on Hindu iconography, Epigraphy, Culture and Numismatics at several Universities such as Lille (France), Brussels (Belgium) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). For his erudition in Sanskrit he has earned the admiration of scholars and the students alike.
Mr. Tewari has been closely associated with the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Museums Association of india, Archaeological Society of India, Epigraphical Society of India, The Place Names Society of India and many other academic bodies. Apart from a good number of research papers published in the journals of repute, Tewari has also two other monographs to his credit. One is the 'Hindu Iconography' (based on Literature, anthological verses and epigraphs) and the other is 'Cultural Heritage of Personal-Names and Sanskrit Literature'. With first hand knowledge of the original sources from Sanskrit literature Tewari's writings present deep insight and erudition.
In the pages that follow I have tried to ascertain the antiquity of nupura as an ornament with the help of Indian literature and art. I have also attempted to understand and explain the various names and the types of nupura as referred to in the classical Sanskrit literature. Hitherto the synonyms of nupura, such as Päda-kataka, Padangada, tula-koti, mañjira and hamsaka, etc. have been invariably rendered into English as an anklet only and no attention, whatsoever has been paid to the shades of inherent distinction in the meanings of these names. As a result every variety of nupura whether occurring in the literary compositions or figuring in the sculptural details have been rendered and described as an anklet only. The basic reason behind this lacuna has been the language itself which has been adopted for communication and which being alien to our culture does not have sufficient number of variants to render exact translations of all such names.
The various names or synonyms of nupura as I have tried to explain below, have not been coined out of the sheer fancy of the lexicographers. They have paid full attention to the names before they were coined and have taken into consideration the existing varieties of the ornament from the art and the society contemporeneous with them. I have tried to visualize the actual meaning (artha) of the terms which the litterateurs of the days gone by would have attached to them and point out the shape (akriti) of those terms or the varieties which the artists, craftsmen or the sculptors of those days would have practically seen and designed. Apart from the chronological factor responsible for the various names and types of nupura, I have taken into account the geographical factor also which reveals that the same ornament or its type as used in a given region, may be known with a different name in another region.
Knowledge of a language is one thing and appreciation of the nuances of expression of the language and its thought is another. There may be many scholars in the structure of the grammatical varieties of a language that the suggestive meanings in words, their charm and beauty in peculiar modes of expression, which only the greatest poets could achieve, could also be enjoyed only by a connoisseur, a rasika. Rasikas are rare and they are the most valuable.
When Shri S.P. Tewari was brought by Dr. B.N. Sharma, one of the most devoted to Indian cultural studies, and whose premature death is a great loss to the world of scholars and a personal blow to me, I was attracted to him because of his proficiency in Sanskrit and his keen intelligence. As the years rolled by, Tewari has proved himself to be more and more involved in understanding Sanskrit literature as a connoisseur.
His very choice of the theme for the book, Nupura-the Anklet in Indian Literature and Art, speaks for his taste as a rasika.
Though it may appear so very simple, it may not occur so easily to another as a theme on which several poets have delighted in revealing the glory. The melodious sound of the manjira is the sweet note of the swan so entertaining to the ear. Tewari has not only chosen the theme but enlivened it. He has chosen several rare remarks of poets that reveal their mind. Who can forget Bana's line from the Kadambari where the most beautiful sweet-sounding poetry of the greatest poets is compared to the gem-set anklets that jingle at every step of the damsel and captivate the mind of the listener: manastu sadhu dhvanibhih pade pade haranti santo maninupura iva.
The love of ornament prompted by vanity is inherent in the human race. A most primitive instinct of human beings is to make their person more beautiful. more imposing or more striking by ornamentation. This inclination is as old as dress itself or perhaps dates even further back. There are tribes to whom climate and civilization have yet not suggested the necessity of clothing the body, but, who nevertheless possess ornaments of some degree of development. The same fact is also borne out by the Sanskrit word bhushana or abhushana generally taken to be the synonym of ornament in Indian languages. It is formed of the verb bhush (i.e. bhushati, bhushayati-te, or bhushita) meaning 'to adorn, deck or decorate with'. Later on the popular meaning of the word bhusha is also taken to be simply the garments or the dress. This idea is equally clear from the early sculptures found all over the world, which display more of jewels or ornaments on the body of the persons of those times rather than garments. These early examples of art and for that matter even the later ones also, demonstrate the fact that from the rudest of beginnings upto the last refinements of art, jewelled ornaments have ever had the same purpose in view and it was to give more prominence to individual parts of the body by means of glittering or jingling beautiful objects which involuntarily draw the eye of the spectator in the desired direction. It is on this account that most of the ornaments have derived their names after the names of individual parts of the human body like necklace (i.e. kamthahāra) is after neck or kamtha, ear-rings (karna-kundala) after the ear, armlets (kara-kankama) after the arms and the anklets (padangada, pada-pāla or nupura) after the ankles. In fact the very places where the ornaments naturally fitted were probably the best of all places in the architecture of human form which could have been found."
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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