Stringing of Pote – Beads

Jewellery, Beads, Jewelled Objects

Stringing of Pote – Beads

Though not technically a craft since the pote or bead is imported into Nepal, the stringing of pote into traditional necklaces by expert craftsmen has been a ritual for more than a hundred years.

‘The pote is symbolic of the delicate nature of a marriage,’ says Saguddin, a master at stringing and selling the pote necklaces. ‘It is said that each bead ensures a year of blissful married life. A typical pote usually consists of around 2,000 beads – more than enough to sustain a couple of lifetimes of conjugal happiness.’

The beads are more than ornamental – the wearing of the beads immediately identifies the caste of the wearer. The amount of gold in the tilhari indicates the wealth of the groom. Brides of the chettri or warrior caste wear several long strings of green beads with a big tilhari. It is worn over the right shoulder and under the left arm with the gold tilhari dangling over the left waistline. Brides of the Rana and Shah clans also wear thick yellow pote together with the tilhari.

The loose beads are imported from the Czech Republic, Germany, and Japan – they come in every colour imaginable. The simple design is usually custom-made at the pote bazaar itself after customers choose the quality and colour of the beads to be used. The Czech beads are considered to be of high quality though German and Japanese varieties are also equally well liked. The price depends on the quality of the glass, the colour, and the cutting. Round and hexagonal beads are the most popular, while the square and diamond-shaped ones are less favoured. Red is considered auspicious and hence is the most preferred colour, followed by green and then yellow.

The Kashmiri Muslims at Rakhi Bazaar in Indrachowk, Kathmandu have been involved in the trading of these bead necklaces since they settled in Kathmandu some hundred years ago. Previously, bead working was done by this small community themselves. But lately, they have been employing about 800 home-based women workers living in Sunargoan and Machhegaon areas of Kathmandu to do this work at their own homes as per specified designs.

Beads also make exquisite, but inexpensive, fashion accessories as well as excellent souvenirs. In fact, many a tourist is seen at the pote bazaar hunting for gifts to take back home. They ask the bead stringers to made bracelets, anklets, and even belts out of the exotic and pretty beads.


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