South India’s most popular bridal ornament is the Arm Vanki also known as armlet, arm patti or bajuband. Bridal jewelry is never complete without the vanki adorning the mehendi-clad hands of a South Indian bride.
The vintage south Indian style vanki has the same charm today because of its inverted-V- shaped design which has its origin traced to Naga or snake worship. In Indian culture and tradition, snakes are seen as entities of strength and renewal. Arm vanki or Ara vanki is worn around the arm by a new South Indian bride for elegance, and also because it is believed that the armlet has the power to protect it's holder in her new journey. (Suggested read: Significance Of Vaddanam For Telugu Brides)
The popular vanki is South India's most desired arm jewelry and culturally, it is the most adorning jewelry to highlight the Indian ensemble for special occasions such as weddings & traditional celebrations. Studded with uncut diamonds, gemstones, cubic zirconia, the vanki designs are often inspired by Indian mythology, old paintings and sculptures.
Arm vanki is not your daily-wear piece of jewelry. These are usually worn only on special occasions. The shape of the vanki is flexible, such that it fits over the arm without any strain or pressure. Besides the arm vanki, the other two types of armlets popular in south India include the chain and the arm cuff style. Here are some of the most traditional and trendy designs and types of armlets or arm vankis-
1. Traditional Gemstone Arm Vanki:
2. Traditional Gold Arm Vanki:
These are very simple and elegant arm vankis with minimum use of gemstones made in 22K gold.
3. Temple Jewelry Arm Vanki:
These vankis are intricately crafted and typically involves a lot of handiwork and carving referred to as "Nakshi". Also, each vanki of Temple Jewellery depicts a story and consists of motifs of Indian deities, gods and goddesses like Lakshmi, Krishna and Ganesh. One of the most popular motifs used in Temple Jewellery is the Lakshmi goddess, a representative of beauty, prosperity, good luck and abundance. It is believed that wearing the Lakshmi Goddess oranments on her wedding day will bring prosperity and luck to the new bride and is considered highly auspicious.
4. Peacock Arm Vanki:
A popular south Indian vanki effortlessly imbibes the motif of the peacock, and it’s not just because of the bird’s beauty and elegance. In south Indian mythology, peacock is the vehicle (vahaana) of Murugan/Kartikeya, the God of war, victory, love and wisdom. Also, peacock symbolises the blossoming of love.
These use a gold chain to tie the armlets around the arm and often can be used as a choker necklace too. The chain armlets can be made in any length desired.
These are also very popular and reflect royalty with studded gems and heavy gold weight. They act as arm belts and are flexible to a certain degree.