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Published: January 10th 2019
When you wear a particular piece of jewelry, you probably do so because of how it matches with your outfit or the statement it creates. Perhaps your collection of jewelry has a significant value to you, like the heirloom ring you got from your grandmother.
While these precious accessories have always been a way to decorate our bodies, some jewelry has certain representations and symbolism. The definition of jewelry differs on the items, the components used, and even the country it originated from. Read on below to discover the meaning of jewelry from different cultures around the world.
A cartouche is a pendant shaped like an oblong or oval encircling hieroglyphics over a single straight line, holding the name of Egypt’s ancient leaders. These pieces of jewelry were typically composed of gold and situated around the neck of a deceased person being arranged for burial. Ancient Egyptians believed that doing this would make the dead person recognizable in the afterlife. For other Egyptian tribes, they hung the cartouche on the coffin or sarcophagus.
When Napoleon’s army looted the ancient tombs in Egypt
in the 19th
century, the form of the jewelry pendant found on the dead bodies reminded them of the shape of bullets. Due to the fact that they don’t know how to read hieroglyphics, they did not really know the real purpose of the jewelry. Therefore, they called them cartouches which means “bullet” in French.
A torque is a particular type of the Celtic collar. It is composed of flat metal that are attached tightly around the neck of a person. Usually molded in silver or gold, a torque can be a simple object with a decorative clasp, or it can also be spruced up with delicately carved Celtic artwork. Occasionally, they would be embedded with diamonds
or other precious stone. Some torques were created to the style of a cuff trinket which has an opening in the front to make them easier to wear around the neck.
Amidst the ancient Celtic clans, wearing torques meant you were of high rank. They were usually worn by the royal family, priests, and noble warriors. For them, torques were a symbol of heavenly protection and social standing. It was believed that wearing one would protect the owner from evil and would not be harmed in battle.
A Tuareg Cross is a significant piece of jewelry that was handed down from father to his son between the Tuareg tribes of Northern Africa. The Tuaregs have a wandering culture, so the cross jewelry represents the four corners of the planet, expressing that the wearer of the jewelry will never know where he will cross paths with death. The jewelry is mainly composed of silver which is believed to be Prophet Muhammad’s metal.
A komboloi is a kind of Greek beaded jewelry which is commonly translated as “worry beads”. The jewelry often takes the shape of linked strings of vibrant beads and is made of amber or glass. It has a headband at one end and a crest dangling on the other end. Beating the komboloi beads is a stress reliever which can also be used to pass some time or pray.
The first ever discovered komboloi were braided in ropes and worn by Greek monks as a method to remember their prayers. The name originated from the Greek
words kombo, meaning knot, and leo which means say. When the words are combined it means “on every knot, announce a prayer”. Over the decades, the worry beads have lost most of their religious meaning.
Take a close look at your jewelry. Do you have some of these designs from various cultures? Whatever the old-fashioned meaning behind them, a lot of people find their own sentimental value in their diamonds which makes these timeless pieces an adored memento.
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