ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Anamika

Hello World!

Today happens to be A new year's day - as good a day as any other to begin something...

This blog is kicking off after several false starts. For several weeks, finding a suitable name for it was a bother; and then 'Anamika' sort of 'hurled into view'... Literally meaning 'the nameless one' (feminine implied, probably), Anamika is also the proper name for the ring finger in sanskrit.

The finger ring is surely an ornament worn in many if not most cultures all over the world. But one can't be quite as sure whether the finger of choice was universal as well! Even in ancient India, it is not clear if the ring (for instance Shakuntala's fateful 'Abhijnana') was indeed worn on the Anamika - if it indeed were, the ring finger probably would be called something like 'ring finger' and not given such a mysteriously blank name. The names of other fingers in sanskrit are quite evocative - the index finger is called 'Tarjani' , the threatener. 'Anamika' might well indicate a certain lack of distinguishing attributes, like the ring for instance.

During Vedic ceremonies, I have often seen the 'Pavitram' being worn on the Anamika. But that really is not hard enough evidence that the anamika was indeed the ring finger in ancient India!

From a wider viewpoint, the history of Indian ornaments is not a very well documented subject, at least for a popular audience.

Many of our traditional ornaments are not only antiquated; even 'conceptually', they are weird. The anklet - 'cilampu' - of Kannagi in the Tamil classic Cilappatikaram was a hollow doughnut-shaped metallic object, filled with pearls (or were they rubies? Confusion about the 'filling' leads to the tragic climax of the story. But that is, well, another story!). A smart way to conceal/store precious gems perhaps; but aesthetically, a colossal waste!

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