There was a time when almost every young woman wore one. It was the fad, the fashion and just something that was done. No one really questioned it, except a few disapproving old church women. Then again, they questioned almost anything that looked like fun, so no one took notice. But have you ever stopped to think about the cultural significance of the anklet? What exactly is behind the looks and the stares, and why does that little piece of jewellery have the power to raise eyebrows in certain circles?
An anklet or ankle bracelet or chain may be drawn tight like a strap or made to dangle an inch or two for comfort or style. It is usually made from various material or metals, usually gold or silver, and it is worn around the ankle.
Today, Jamaican women wear anklets as a means of expression.
Anklets have been worn for thousands of years during different epochs, and culturally they have different meanings and social status. These days, anklets are generally worn as fashion jewellery.
In Mesopotamia, the ancient Sumerians were said to adorn themselves in jewellery, including anklets, as these were found in their graves. It is believed that wives wore a lot of jewellery to highlight her status and her husband’s wealth.
In Egypt, jewellery was beloved and worn by everyone regardless of social status, but Egyptian royalty had anklets made of precious stone and metals while the general population settled for lucky amulets and talismans. Hence, the possible genesis of the charm bracelet.
It is believed that the deity known as Baal had worshippers who eventually prescribed the wearing of anklets to prostitutes and women of ‘loose morals’. In present-day Egypt, most women, because of Muslim tradition, no longer wear anklets publicly, as it is not seen as conservative. However, performers such as artistes and dancers still wear them as part of their act.
In Indian culture, anklets were more than acceptable. In fact, it was the trinket of choice for married women, especially with the dangle charms signifying that a woman is already wedded and off the market, so she was revered in their culture.
However, in America in the late 60s with its sexual revolution, the anklet signified openness of a relationship. And even when a woman was married, if she wore an anklet, it symbolised that she was open to having sexual relationships with someone other than her significant other.
In our Jamaican culture, anklets in the past have had a negative association with prostitution, as it is said that this is how men, especially sailors who came into Kingston Harbour back when it was a bustling port of call, could easily identify a ‘lady of the evening’ or ‘Sailor Peggy’ as they were locally known. Today, Jamaican women wear anklets as a means of expression, for fun and fashion. As long as it is cute and eye-catching, a Jamaican female will be wearing it with style and sophistication.
— Written by C.W.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of BUZZ or its employees.