Buying history in the name of jewelry.
Bekhali Bhota is the name of the woman who took care of me when I was a baby. She also took care of all the children born in my family after me. Bekhali Bhota for us is a fond memory.
When I saw a pair of silver makasi earrings on display in one of the showcase drawers of the newly opened Museum Shop at The City Museum in Durbarmarg, I was instantly reminded of Bekhali Bhota. It triggered nostalgia of the days when a smaller and younger me sat beside her, as she rubbed mustard oil on my new-born cousin(s), as I asked all sorts of questions about all sorts of different things. Her curly hair tucked behind her ears were adorned with a pair of silver makasi, which dangled slightly as she moved about, finishing her chores for the day. She was a woman of strength (and I don’t mean just emotional strength) and beauty.
The pair of silver makasi earrings on display found a connection with me. So did the silver tayo necklace, just like the kind that my aunt keeps safe in her Podrej and wears only during wedding receptions. There were some other jewelry pieces that I’d never seen before but were equally impressive – the hansuli, the nagbeshar-inspired rings, and sinkhwa cuffs. The display felt like it was a collection of hand-me-downs from women all over Nepal.
I am not much of an accessory person, no. But I wanted to make each piece on display my own. They weren’t merely accessories – they were little pieces of history in themselves.
Simple but elegant, the jewelry exuded beauty and were obviously created through the skilled hands of artisans.
I wanted to know more about this collection on display. I left the shop with a name, Kaligarh, an image of Bekhali Bhota in my mind -- a pair of silver makasi dangling from her ears.