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By DILIP SONIGARA

SYMBOLISM

Who are you?

Part of the "Stories of Self-Expression" series by Mohini

This series was introduced to help readers travel through various human emotions and expressions and see how jewellery has facilitated those expressions since ancient times. It has undoubtedly been a vital part of our lives. We don’t always realize why we wear jewellery. For most of us, it is limited to the physical appearance, which is one aspect of it but not the whole. The designs we admire, the pieces we let decorate our body, say something about us. So far, we have seen how jewellery helps us express our sentiments, how it substitutes words to express love, how it creates a shared identity, how it empowers individuals to express their individuality, how it shows power, and how it is an intrinsic part of traditions around the world. To culminate this series, we wanted to talk about an inherent feature of jewellery that ties all these aspects together—symbolism.

Be it love, culture, power, or any emotion, it is the symbolic nature of jewellery that gives it meaning. In this story, we’ll talk about artists who’ve been using jewellery to tell their stories. We’ll also see different jewellery and their meaning. So let’s get started.

The first story is of Emily Beckley, who uses indigenous symbols, seeds, and corals, with washed-up fishing nets and wire to show the destruction we are causing to the environment. Emily lives on Horn Island in Australia, and her work is inspired by her experiences, stories, and her culture’s history. Some of her work include:

Sea Connection: A necklace made with ghost net, marine nylon rope, and pearls.

Destructive Beauty: A necklace made with 925 silver, marine debris fuel caddy top, marine nylon rope, and silk cord.

Eden Lennox, another Australian artist, uses bold symbols to show her upbringing and tell the story of modern migrants in Australia. Her family moved to Australia after WWII. Her art is constructed around this experience, and her jewellery conveys a social message. Some of her inspiring work include:

Blended: It is made from found objects, brass, copper, steel, aluminium, 925 silver, enamel, acrylic, and faux gold leaf.

1990's Horse: A horse split into two halves from the centre. It is made with found objects, cubic zirconia, 925 silver with patina, acrylic, and enamel.

Sultana Shamshi is a Mumbai-based artist who emigrated to Perth in 1982. She is of Hindu, Arab, and Persian descent. Her work is inspired by her surroundings and tells the story of desecration and deforestation. In response, she has created her own “Forest of Brooches,” representing bushland with cultures flourishing together. Some of her designs include:

Palmus Africanus and the Shalimar Gardens: These are brooches made from African trade beads and recycled silver.

Bombay Palms: She designed these brooches with silk and recycled silver.

Bloody Beautiful Blossoms: These are brooches made with antique embroidery and recycled silver.

Not only are artists worldwide creating unique jewellery with personal symbolism but there ate jewellery with symbolism in various cultures. Here are some of that jewellery:

Hamsa: Also known as Hamesh Hand, is an ancient Middle Eastern symbol representing the Hand of God. In Hebrew culture, it means the Hand of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron. In Islamic culture, it symbolizes the Hand of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Mohammed. In Sunni culture, it symbolizes the Five Pillars of Wisdom.

The Tree of Life: It is a universal symbol seen in almost all cultures. Depending on whom and where you ask, it has different meanings, with the most common being immortality.

The Cross: Seen as a symbol of sacrifice and salvation, it is worn by many to show faith in Christianity. It is also believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits. But that's not all; the Cross has played an important role in ancient cultures. It was an emblem of the Sun god Orpheus (the "Cross of Light"), the symbol of the Roman god Mithras, the Persian god Mithra, and the Greek god Attis. It is also believed to represent the four physical elements: fire, air, water, and earth. Moreover, it also represents directional symbols: north, south, east, and west.

As we've established through this series, it is not wrong to say that jewellery is closely knitted with our lives and forms an essential part of our story. It is hard to compress the countless stories we've been exposed to while researching for this series into a few thousand words. Nor is it easy to do justice to the richness of those stories that are selected and trimmed for this blog. But we hope that we've been able to expand the reader's perspective on jewellery, which was the main aim of this series. The one thing we want you to extract from this series is the knowledge that jewellery is so much more than physical appearance and decoration—that it is an extension of ourselves.

At Mohini, we craft jewellery with a deep commitment to the idea that jewellery is an extension of ourselves. We wear it to express something personal that sometimes necessitates something more than words. That's why we only make one piece of every design so that your expression is as unique as you are. Come visit us, and tell us what you wish to express, and we'll find jewellery for you.

Note: This blog is part of the “Stories of self-expression” series, where we talk about the different ways jewellery has facilitated our journey to expressing ourselves. To read about how jewellery became a symbol of status and power, read our previous blog: Power

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