India, Bikaner, 19th century 


Pair of gold armlets, BAJU BANDS, set with parab cut saphires. The reverse is decorated with multicolored enamel, depicting birds and flowers. 

The tradition of wearing Baju bands was inherited by the Mughals from their ancestors, the Timurids. The word Baju band is derived from baju, meaning arm and band, meaning closers, and is worn on the upper arm. The most traditional form of the Baju band was composed of a large stone of exceedingly high quality, for example an emerald, which, in the days of the Mughals, came from Colombia via the Portuguese and flanked by two pearls. 

They became more ornate through the centuries and were another form of displaying the fines gems, particularly when a number were worn together. It was symbolic of aristocraxy, masculinity and their role as conquerors, but the practice of wearing Baju bands began as an amulet to guard the wearer form his enemies in battle. They were usually composed of stones which had been astrologically chosen to ward off certain malefic effects, later a more decorative role took on and became an important accessory to the king. They became more significant during the provincial rule, when all the Maharajas wore them to identify their role. 



Catalogue Schmuck der Maharajas, page 77 

Kumar & Krishnan Dance of the Peacock, page 184, ill. 291 

Untracht, Oppi Traditional Jewelry of India, page 250, ill. 560