June 11th, 2014 / posted by paularath

Afghani pendant CHAI When Amerjit Ghag of CHAI Studio in Ward Warehouse goes on a buying trip to India, she is searching for treasures from the entire region. While her original family roots are in Punjab, her sleuthing usually takes her to Rajasthan, Jaipur and beyond. Over the years Amerjit has developed strong and trusting working relationships with antique dealers, jewelers and craftspeople who work with her to create exclusive items, from indigo silk screened napkins to gauzy curtains to unique one-of-a-kind jewelry. Afghani pendant  Chai 2   Amerjit’s latest collaborations began as amulets worn by nomadic Afghani women.  The women wore the adornments as head adornments, bridal hair clips, earrings, nose rings, amulets or pendants. She calls them “Gypsy-fusion” pieces. Many of these pieces began as spoons, coins or other metal items. Loving fathers would melt down all the metals they had to create something special for their daughters when they became brides. The pieces began making their way to India as a result of the turmoil in Afghanistan which began in the 1970s. “There’s hope and love put into these things for their daughters,” Amerjit explained. They harbor special energy and “A lot of spirit; it’s the essence of humanity.” After living with these amulets for a few years, trying to think of just the right thing to create with them, Amerjit was inspired by a memory of her grandmother, who always had a mala (like Middle Eastern or Greek prayer beads) in her hands. She used the mala for meditation and prayer. A mala consists of 108 beads with a knotted space in between to create a pause between prayers. Afghani pendant CHAI 3 Amerjit combined antique malas with the Afghani amulets and little tassels, which she said represent lotus leaves. Together she created truly unique pendants with malas made of semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, labradorite and carnelian, hand-knotted, making them just the right length for a pendant. Afghani pendant CHAI 4 These unique cultural treasures sell for $145 and up at CHAI Studio in Ward Warehouse or online at www.ChaiStudio.com. There are only a few of them available and of course they are each one-of-a-kind. – Paula Rath

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