Adornment to the body dates back to the earliest of times. Rings, necklaces, and bracelets, arrayed on the body, from the ears to the ankles and everywhere in between, have been used as decorations by both sexes. Jewelry like the ankle bracelet may be merely for beautification and decoration or it may take on specific cultural and societal implications and meanings.
In this modern day and age, the wearing of jewelry is much more commonly associated with women, though men are known to outfit themselves with many types of jewelry as well. Popular jewelry can range from the simple, delicate chain, to the outlandish and rare pieces, and can adorn just about any part of the body. The anklet is a piece of jewelry that while has been around for thousands of years, is making a popular comeback.
The feet are not often the first place that come to mind when thinking about jewelry. Yet the ankle is perfect spot for a bracelet, like a lower body version of the wrist. The ankle may be an even better site for adornment than the wrist, as the foot provides a better blockage to a bracelet falling off, as can occur on the wrist.
Bracelets around the ankle is very common in numerous Eastern cultures. One site, in what used to be part of the great Persian empire, many anklets were found along with all sorts of other trinkets. India is a country whose people are often associated with this piece of jewelry. While both men and women wear them, they are more often associated with women, especially new brides. Anklets are a practical and thoughtful gift for Indian brides and the tinkling sound of small bells on the anklet usually announces the arrival of the bride to her husbands home.
In the US, dressing up the ankle is a much more contemporary idea of fashion. In the 1950’s, as women began to wear shorter skirts and roll down their socks, small chains could often be seen decorating their ankles. While bare feet and ankles were more acceptable in Eastern cultures before the turn of the 20th century, such was not the case in Western cultures like the US or England. Since the skirts of women generally covered their ankles, there was little need for accessories below their skirts. So in some ways, the anklet may be associated with the liberation of women and their espousal of a freer fashion for women. Now as legs are often as exposed as the arms, women find the need to adorn them as well.
Like other jewelry, these bracelets come in an array of types and forms. Ranging from strings, straps, and chains to intricate pieces with precious stones and metals, the anklet is a piece that draws attention to the foot whether it is by itself or one of many. In India, small bells often tinkle from around the ankle, while in the US many choose to adorn theirs with charms. With the ankle, anything goes.
Just as people express themselves through their clothing choices, or what genre of music they listen to, so does jewelry act as a way to express who that person is. Where it is worn on the body is a further extension of who they are. The anklet can be worn as a cultural decoration with deeper meaning or as a simple beautiful embellishment to an area that is often overlooked, but which has as much beauty as other parts of the body. It is a versatile piece of jewelry that has for centuries stood as a symbol of beauty.
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