The History of Anklets
Anklets have been around for longer than high heels and toenail polish. They have been used to attract a partner, to show that you have a partner, or just to flaunt wealth.
The oldest anklets are said to be more than 8000 years old. They were much more than just fashion jewelry then. Women in Mesopotamia used to wear them to show off their husband’s fortune. They have been common throughout the Middle East for many years.
Middle Eastern Ankle Bracelets
In ancient times in Egypt, anklets were extremely fashionable. They were fashion jewelry for the wealthy classes of women. These women often showed their status with flashy stones and metals. Women of the poorer working classes typically wore handmade anklets with simple metals. They handcrafted the jewelry to incorporate symbols that they believed would bring them good fortune in their futures.
Today anklets are an important element of Middle Eastern belly dancers’ outfits. Intricate handcrafted anklets create a subtle but beautiful sound as the belly dancers move their feet.
Anklets in India
Throughout history, anklets have played a major cultural role in India as well. Women have worn them for centuries on their wedding days and afterward to show their marital status.
Heavy anklets are particularly popular today in rural India. Women in tribal areas of Rajasthan wear handmade silver anklets that are extremely heavy as a display of bravery.
Anklets have played such a huge role in India’s cultural landscape that there is even an epic poem about them. In Shilappadikaram, the famous poem, a married man falls in love with another woman who wears in anklet. Her anklet has such magical powers that he is powerless to resist her.
Anklets: Coming to America
Anklets finally made their way into the United States during the 1950s. They became an extremely popular piece of fashion jewelry during the decades that followed. During the earlier parts of the twentieth century, it was rumored that only prostitutes wore anklets. Because of this old wives tale, many mothers discouraged their daughters from wearing them. There is no sound evidence that this was a cultural practice but it was believed by many. By the 1970s, anklets were a widespread part of fashion. Handmade jewelry became particularly popular during this time and it was common to wear anklets with charms on them.
Today anklets draw their inspiration from all over the world. It is common to find handcrafted Indian style anklets alongside high fashion jewelry staples like gold and silver beaded anklets.