Also known as an ankle chain or simply an anklet, an ankle bracelet is in simple terms a form of jewelry that women use to adorn their ankles. Tracing ankle bracelets history will tell you that this type of jewelry has been worn by women all over the world for several centuries now. Ankle bracelets were most commonly worn by women in Egypt, India, and the Arab countries, especially women of the Bedouin clan. While anklets worn in these countries were generally made of silver and gold, in western countries where the trend caught on much later, anklets were more commonly made of leather. There are specific meanings attached to this fashion jewelry in many countries depending on their traditions and beliefs. In this article, we take a look at some of these meanings and beliefs.
Meaning of Ankle Bracelets
For many centuries now, ankle bracelets have been worn by women around their anklets. The anklets may either be worn tightly bound around the ankle or left to dangle slightly. While some people attribute significant ankle bracelet meaning to the way it is worn, others wear it only for the purpose of ornamentation. Today you may find many men adorning their ankles with leather and hemp anklets. Many women also prefer getting ankle tattoos that resemble bracelets and these have different meanings according to the symbolism of the image used for the tattoo. There are many versions of meanings differing from region to region.
- In ancient Egypt, jewelry was used to adorn both men and women regardless of their social status. Wearing bracelets and chains made of precious metals and stones generally remained reserved for the rich. The poorer classes resorted to wearing ankle bracelets which they believed to bring good luck and fortune.
- The ancient Sumerians who resided in the area around Mesopotamia were amongst the oldest civilizations who adorned their feet by wearing ankle bracelets. The meaning that the ancient Sumerian civilization attached to this jewelry was that when worn by a woman it was an indication of the wealth of her husband.
- In India, there are many folk stories about ankle bracelets. One of the most famous stories is the epic poem, Silappatikaram, which is about a man who is married and falls in love with a woman who wears anklets with magical properties. The story recounts his infidelity to his wife because of the attraction he feels towards the woman wearing the anklets. Stories such as these speak volumes about the ingrained love for anklets for women in Indian culture. Traditionally only unmarried girls and married women wore anklets as customs decreed that widows could not adorn themselves with any ornaments. In Indian villages, anklets with charms that made a tinkling sound were worn to ward off insects and small animals while working in the fields.
- In the United States and other countries in the western world, ankle bracelets for women became popular only in the early twentieth century. Unlike Asian countries, earlier there was no specific meaning attached to wearing the jewelry. Today there are different ankle bracelet explanations abounding. A common belief is that wearing the bracelet on one side represents heterosexuality and wearing it on the other side represents homosexuality. Some people also believe that wearing an anklet is an indication that a person is available (this is generally a derogatory reference). All these meanings are just contemporary beliefs that have no logical explanation to them.
Most women who wear anklets today, wear them just as a fashion accessory and not due to the meaning attached to them. These bracelets are worn as a way of making one's feet pretty and to ornament them.