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Nagercoil is a city and a municipality in Kanyakumari district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It derives its name from a famous old temple called the Nagaraja Temple, which still exists in the central part of the city. It has been an important temple for Hindus for centuries and is also a tourist attraction. The deities of the temple are adorned with traditional temple jewellery, which is made only in Vadasery.
Vadasery, a tiny village on the borders of Nagercoil, is dedicated to creating temple jewellery. A jewellery crafted to decorate the statues of gods and goddesses is temple jewellery. The practice of ornamenting status originated in South India. The local rulers, Chola, Pandya, and Krishnadeva Raya dynasties, gave their jewelleries to temples to adorn deities and protect their jewelleries. They set up workshops in a temple with professional artisans to create jewellery, especially for the gods. Nowadays, there are 58 units, with 224 traditional artisans, engaged in the manufacture of temple jewellery.
These traditional jewels are made with silver covered with gold leaf. The top visible layer has natural un-cut stones, while the gold leaf is used to form the lining for the stones. This ensures that the jewels retain their shine for years. The Rajas of Chettinad and Ramnad were using this traditional jewellery.
Temple jewellery is studded with red stones that come either in dark reddish maroon or dark green colour. The jewellery used to adorn was later worn by temple dancers, and slowly, the designs became a part of the Indian woman’s bridal jewelry. Temple Jewellery, an essential part of the decoration of the Tamil bride, is also an integral part of the Acharya or costume of a Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi dancer. Indian women and jewelry have always created a great combination. The Tradition is still alive and is more active than earlier. South Indian women consider wearing temple ornaments at important festivals. Artisan families in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, have been mastering this art for more than 100 years. Many of these age-old designs are still fashioned. The jewellery of Tamil Nadu exposes the top of the goldsmith’s art.