Nose rings are popular in cultures across the globe in different forms. Besides the ear piercings, nose piercings in different positions on the nasal cartilage or skin is the most frequently done. Piercing and its importance varies from culture to culture. In Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, alongside its neighbours like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, nasal piercing has both fashionable and cultural connotations. Nose piercings are also common cultural markers of African and Australian aboriginal tribes.
The history of nose piercing in India dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries and it was only done by the women. Called the ‘nath’, it became a symbol of marital status for the women and was patronized by both royalty and commoners. Another interesting observation shows that the metal and designs used on the nose rings were markers of the social and economic status of the woman in her society. While the royals and the rich wore kundan, sapphire, pearl, diamond or gold nose rings, commoners wore theirs in silver. Over time, different states or kingdoms shaped their own unique versions of the nath, like the double nose jewels worn by Rajasthani and South Indian women called the ‘nathori’. In Bengal, septum piercing is done as a sign of marriage.
Types of Nose Rings:
The nose rings vary according to the position of the piercing along the nasal cartilage or skin. These include the simple nostril piercing, and others include high nostril, septum, bridge, nasallang and septril piercing.
The nostril piercing can be often utilized to wear simple studs of gemstones like diamonds, sapphires or rubies or the more statement bridal pieces that include a large gold ring that is curved or pinned through the piercing and is engraved with a cluster of gems or pearls.
Often, such pieces are also attached with a long chain to hook it to the hairdo to complete the traditional bridal look. Septum piercings worn with gold nose rings is also a traditional marital marker in different regions of India, including Bengal and Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra nose ring nathni, is an example of artistic talent with their use of Basra pearls and emeralds inlaid upon the base gold of the rings.
Rajasthani, Pashtuni and Punjabi nose rings also have heavy silver work done on them or in variations of oxidized jewellery, which can either be a pin-type cone shaped large nose ring on the nostril or the extravagant and large ring-type nose rings that were prevalent since the Rajput royalty.
The South Indian nose rings are traditionally made of gold and come in three pieces that include double nose rings for the nostrils and a septum ring. These are often included in the bridal trousseau and also are mandatory for costumes for classical dance forms like Bharatnatyam and Mohiniyattam.
Nose rings are also available as clip-type rings that can be worn without any nose piercings and over the decades, they have consistently risen in popularity because of their utilitarian nature.
Among the younger generation, daily-wear nose rings made of imitation stones or simplistic silver that can be pin-type or clip-type or as barbells is worn often as a way to intermix modern attires and ethnic jewellery. Often, the preferred material for such nose rings is oxidized.
Nose rings have gained their popularity among a range of customers across the country because of the refreshing trends introduced by the jewellery designers. Whether in popular films or on the red carpet fashionable celebrities like Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone have worn the nose ring.