What is Temple Jewellery

Temple Jewellery - What is it, History, Cultural Significance

So, what is Temple Jewellery? It is a distinct category of Indian jewellery originating from the Southern parts of India. Temple jewellery was once used to ornament the idols of Indian deities, gods, and goddesses, as the name suggests. The tradition of worshipping gods with heavy gold jewellery is still practised in Indian temples.

History of Temple Jewellery

The origin of temple jewellery traces back to the 9th century, during the Cholas period. This jewellery was used for temple deities as their garlands and for the temple dancers who performed for god and goddess. 

Later these temple dancers went to perform in Raja's kingdom and other social gatherings. 

With this the temple jewellery became popular among classical dancers like Bharatnatyam, kuchipudi, mohiniyattam and also nobility like kings, Maharanis and devadasis wore this jewellery. With its rich beauty, it has recently been more popular in the fashion world.

What is Temple Jewellery Made of

Temple jewellery was made of pure gold and a mix of silver which is considered as a pure metal(sattvik) and goddess Lakshmi motif. Gold is considered for  status, authority, health, wealth and prosperity. 

Apart from gold various precious stones,uncut diamonds, rubies, emerald, sapphire were also used. The  panchaloha dyes were used in temple jewellery, and were made using gold,silver, copper,lead and iron using five metals which gave an elegant and fine finish. 

But today iron and brass dyes are used due to commercialisation.

Temple jewellery was made by assari or vadasseri from the southern part of India as it was an inherited business from their ancestors. 

Motifs used in Temple Jewellery

The use of motifs in the temple jewellery make it unique and luxurious from other jewellery.The motifs used are idols of god and goddess, birds and animals.


Each representation of motifs had a deep cultural and scientific reason symbolising various acts, meaning,vibes, luck, prosperity and much more. 

The motifs used are

God and goddess motifs for Jewellery

  • Shiva Linga- Lord shiv 
  • Goddess Meenakshi-Goddess Parvati 
  • goddess Lakshmi-  Health and wealth 
  • Radha Krishna- Love 
  • Vishnu- Ruler of the earth 

Animals motifs in Jewellery

  • Serpent- Symbolising birth and  rebirth
  • Lion- Strength and courage 
  • Elephant- Fertility
  • Fish- Matsya as lord Vishnu's avatar

Birds Motifs

  • Peacock- Immorality
  • Parrot- Love 

Flower Motifs

Lotus- Purity and enlightenment 

Jasmine- Love and devotion

Hibiscus- Beauty 

Vines and leaves.

Cultural significance of Temple Jewellery

In Hinduism jewellery is not just a piece of metal used in decoration of the body but also a way to connect with the divine energy. 

It is also believed that temple jewellery which has various motifs of god and goddess, birds and animals has the power to ward off negative energy and bring positivity to the wearer. 

Jewellery is also a way to honour and show devotion to god and goddess and have their blessings.


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