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Rontholi Jewellery Cluster, Nagoan

The rich collection of traditional Assamese jewellery found in Assam, is unique and exclusive to her. These jewelleries hold a special place in the heart of the Assamese women and are worn item during marriages, cultural and religious functions. The traditional Assamese ornaments are also significant as heirlooms family elders pass it on to their younger generation.

Rontholi in Nagaon, Barpeta and Jorhat are the hubs of Assamese jewellery as in these places one can find fabulous variations of gold and silver ornaments. The tradition of jewellery making is present in the Rontholi cluster since many centuries.

The delicate and conventional designing traits of the ornaments found in the cluster are sufficient enough to prove the age-old existence of jewellery making profession in the cluster. The ‘karigar’ inherits techniques and skills from his forefathers, which he perfects to give traditional Jewellery a uniqueness of its own. Initially, there were about 20 units in the cluster who took to jewellery making profession. Over the years the trade of jewellery has proved to be profitable business and more number of households in the Rontholi village undertook the jewellery making profession, thus creating the cluster. Presently, every 6th household in the village has a jewellery manufacturing unit, which makes it the forming most important source of livelihood. The art and culture that percolated down through generations was responsible for imbibing the art of ornament making by the people so much that the jewellery making in the cluster is referred to as one of the most potential industries in the district.

These places boast of skilled and veteran jewellery-makers who are engaged with the profession from a very long time and have a number of jewellery outlets in their premises. The indigenous Assamese jewellery items that mark the specialty of this industry are: Jethi Poti, which is a pendant with fabric worn in the shape of medallion; Loka Paro, which is designed in the shape of two birds embellished with minakari, ruby or gold; Kopo Phool, which comes in the shape of two tiny shoes joined together with the help of a floral attachment; Junbiri, whose front is embedded with ruby whereas the back side is embellished with enameled decorations providing a striking array of both traditional and contemporary ornaments.

Location and Geography The Rontholi jewellery making cluster is located about 129 kms from the state capital Guwahati and about 6 kms from the district headquarter Nagaon. The cluster comprises of only one village divided into wards. There is no documented source to verify the number of units in the cluster. However, it is estimated that the cluster has a total of 200 household based jewellery making units which are located within a radius of 2 to 3 kms.