Sun Gods, Crescents and Flowers: A Look at the Traditional Jewelry of Nubia and the Symbolism Behind It
With its rich culture and heritage, Nubia has a history of unique and meaningful jewelry. Women adorn themselves with jewelry all over the world, but Nubian women place special importance on their traditional gold jewelry. Sadly though, it’s almost impossible to find the classic traditional pieces nowadays. However, Nubians today strive to revive their culture and keep it alive by wearing these pieces and trying to preserve their identity.
The Jakid necklace is the most essential piece of a Nubian bride’s jewelry. It consists of six flat, plan round gold pieces, along with a similar pendant in the center. Most Nubian jewelry pieces can be traced back to ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. The flat round pieces in the Jakid necklace have been associated with the sun god Amun-Ra. If a woman becomes a widow, she cannot be seen wearing any jewelry, except for the Jakid necklace, which she then wears over her back.
Nubian women have a deep appreciation for earrings, to the extent that they can even wear three pieces per ear at times. There are different types of earrings though, mainly ‘tamim’ and ‘zimam kabir’. Both these earrings are crescent-shaped, but they differ in the designs that decorate them.
Another very important piece of jewelry for a bride is ‘gasset el-rahman’; a triangular head ornament hanging from a small rectangular piece that supports it. In ancient Egypt, a lotus flower was worn the same way, and in Nubian art, it can symbolize either success or land and water, depending on which side the apex is facing.
Dugga is basically a choker, but the Nubian kind. Depending on the budget, the number of gold beads would differ from one dugga to another. It consists of different kind of beads attached altogether and is sometimes worn along with other necklaces as well.
You’d almost never see a Nubian woman wearing just one of these, their love for jewelry, especially the traditional one, is endless, and that shows in the way they adorn themselves with more than one piece at the same time, sometimes even while they’re working in the field.