Rise of Awadh - Revisiting the Golden Era

Leading brands across the country are revisiting the golden era of the Nawabs through their collections

Be it the exquisite meena work or the age-old styles of large thumb rings and chapkas -- connoisseurs across the country have developed a penchant forjewels infused with Awadhi craftsmanship and inspired by the royal Nawabi culture. This has led leading jewellery brands to come up with collections that capture the essence of the golden days of Awadh.
For instance, Tanya Rastogi has started the first designer studio, Jewels of Awadh, to showcase jewellery specific to that era. Having nurtured three stores of the prestigious Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers brand in Lucknow, Rastogi has taken her passion for Awadhi craftsmanship further by creating the Tanya Rastogi Jewellery Lounge within the 8000-sq ft Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers store in Mahanagar, Lucknow. Then there is the Awadh collection by Zoya, the exclusive diamond boutique by the Tata Group. “Every year, we take a heritage destination and create a collection inspired by it,” says Sangeeta Dewan, principal jewellery designer for the brand. The Awadh collection follows at the heels of the Banaras and the Rajputana collections.
So, what has led to a revival of interest in Awadhi craftsmanship? “The design vocabulary for apparel and jewellery goes hand in hand. Women today are zesty in their fashion choices. They want to make a statement, not just look pretty,” says Rastogi. “Or wear one piece of chapka with an anarkali or a single headgear and you are a head turner,” she says.
Crafting an authentic Awadh collection require painstaking research and long journeys into the heart of the land. “Awadh is now predominantly Lucknow and the neighbouring areas. It is still steeped into art -- be it embroidery, dance, music or tehzeeb,” says Dewan. She researched on the historical aspects and was deeply inspired by the culture prevalent during the Nawabi era. “The culture of kite flying or sending letters through pigeons, the exquisite embroideries of chikankari and zardozi, the beautiful dance of kathak -- all these influenced the motifs in the collection,” she says. For instance, Dewan used the technique that is used to sew ghungroos onto the cloth in the jewels. Traditional also joined hands with the contemporary -- the multi-strand necklaces that adorned the delicate throats of begums have been made in Western styles to suit the modern Indian sensibilities. “We also focused on Islamic colours like turquoise and gems such as pearls and lapis,” says Dewan.
For Rastogi, it is not just about showcasing the culture but also about reviving age-old crafts. “Exquisite gems like the green meena, Basra pearls, old Colombian emeralds or the blue meena, that is slowly dying out, and styles like the large rings and the thumb rings are all gifts of the Awadhi culture to the world,” she says.
Both Rastogi and Dewan feel that the Awadh collections appeals to the connoisseur who is interested in finer things, with focus on detailing. “Vintage has a cult following. Earlier people would tell the age of a jewel by look at the back and not the front as that was here the fine work and detailing was done. That sensibility is coming back now,” says Rastogi.   

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