All those of you, who know me; also know my obsession for accessories and jewellery. It’s one thing I simply can’t get enough of!
One of my favourite places to buy accessories from is not a store at some mall… it’s actually the local flea markets in different cities when I travel. And Tibetan flea markets are the best kind! Why? Because they’re probably the only other culture that’s as obsessed with massive, chunky accessories as I am! 😉
I LOVE the Tibetan culture… the warmth and innocence that’s such an intrinsic part of their culture, just makes you fall in love! And it reflects in everything… their food (the butter tea and thukpa noodles), their language (which has a lovely ring to it), their Buddhist monasteries (more peaceful than anything else I’ve ever seen) and their gorgeous, intricate sense of fashion!
My first interaction with the local Tibetans was in Little Tibet i.e. McLeodganj (Dharmashala) in Himachal Pradesh… and thereafter in Leh Laddakh. The flea markets in both these places are to die for! Even the ones in Goa for that matter…! For me, shopping in Goa, is primarily about raiding the Tibetan flea markets there… and what makes all of this so much more special is the little cultural significances and tribal folk stories attached to each of those precious items.
I’ve never really been to Tibet, though some day, I will…! But for now, I’ve created this contemporary and fashionable look… inspired by the Tibetan tribal people!
Like I said, I love wearing accessories! I can wear as many of them… together or separately…, and that’s the thing that I have in common with the Tibetan tribal women. They too, wear a lot of accessories… coz wearing symbols in the form of Jewellery, in Buddhism, is believed to bring them closer to God…! But the more important reason is that being a tribal culture, they needed protection at all times… (Call it protection from evil spirits or from actual nasty people…!) Hence, every part of the jewellery they wear, acts as an amulet. It’s like their personal, pretty looking little weapons that can be used to look beautiful at all times, and to kick someone’s butt, when the need arises!
While they dress extremely colourful and yet conservative owing to the fact that they live in extreme cold and harsh weather conditions, I obviously, living in Mumbai, have kept it rather modern with just a black jeans and black leotard, so as to let the accessories add all those pops of colour!
So let’s get into a post-mortem of this look 😉
Beads: Beads and stones, both precious and semi-precious make an important part of Tibetan jewellery, with each playing its symbolic part. Turquoise for example, represents the sky … which in Hindu and Buddhist literature, means ‘nothingness’! Hence, it is believed that turquoise can lead you to become one with infinity!
Similarly, Jade is believed to keep the wearer positive and absorb any negative energy around.
Coral, which is a fossil stone, is supposed to be a reminder of life and death and the cyclic form of life. Its reddish orange colour is symbolic in Buddhist cultures with good luck, good health and is considered holy.
Hence any Tibetan look, without beads is incomplete. The beads I’m wearing here are from different Buddhist cities… My earrings, the turquoise bracelet, the rings and the jade pendant with the carving of the Goddess, are from Tibetan flea markets in Leh & Goa, while the orange beads with the silver Buddha head is from Bali and the colourful beaded necklace from Singapore… !
The Ghau / Gao: The Ghau isn’t just a gorgeous piece of jewellery; it’s actually a prayer box…, a little portable temple that Tibetan tribal men carry when they’re travelling for days. They’d either wear it like a piece of jewellery, or just carry it with their belongings… but it helped them to perform their prayers on-the-go! There’s either a little idol of the Buddha in there or some people even keep little prayer messages or mantras inside… but all in all, it’s there for protection and to bring you back home safe!
For me of course, it was one of the most curious and gorgeous pieces in that small flea market of Leh and I’m wearing it like a belt held together with a colourful curtain-tie that I found in Goa.
The Hair: Screw that hairstylist who made a disaster out of me, but when done properly, the Tibetan tribal hairstyle with dozens of little braids all over your head, makes for a brilliant fashion statement.
For the tribal women in Tibet, it’s functionally comfortable and allows them to travel far and wide into the valley for days without having to worry about their hair. For us, in the urban world, it’s a pretty cool style statement.
Tibetan Felt Jacket: Given the cold, wintery conditions they live in, woolen garments obviously play a huge part in Tibetan fashion. They use all kind of wool from mountain goats, sheep and yak! And those gorgeous colours…! They’re dyed in breath-taking, soft and pleasing colours that dance in contrast with the white, snowy ranges and remind you of the mountains and the valley.
Now I know I have no business wearing this Tibetan felt hoodie in the perennial sweltering heat of Mumbai, but then, most parties and places we go to, usually have the ACs creating an indoor Siberia. So if you’re sporting an overall Tibetan inspired look, why not complete it with a funky, chic, felt shrug! I bought this one at McLeodGanj.
Besides, ‘winter is coming’ soon 😉 And so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw it on for one of those outdoor, chilly concert nights!
And while these boots aren’t the traditional Tibetan boots, they do go a long way in adding a lil modernity and funk to the entire look!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and do tag me in your pictures if you try on this look! You could wear it to a gig or a concert or just sport this boho, tribal look at any of the casual parties that you’re headed to! And if you replace that pair of jeans with a pair of shorts, then you’d fit into a Goa or Thailand, almost naturally 😉
Personally, I love wearing looks inspired by different cultures… not only does it help me come up with innovative styles that are uniquely my own… it also makes me feel like a part of something larger and more meaningful. There’s a lot more of this kind coming up… so stay tuned and keep reading 🙂
Lots of love… Muuaahh!
All photographs are courtesy Sonalee Das.