A glossary of ethnic jewellery terms

Miao / Hmong

The Miao (Chinese: 苗; pinyin: Miáo; Vietnamese: Mèo or H’Mông; Thai: แม้ว (Maew) or ม้ง (Mong); Burmese: mun lu-myo) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the…Continue Reading


The Ottoman Empire (Ottoman Turkish: دولت عليه عثمانیه Devlet-i ʿAliyye-yi ʿOsmâniyye] Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu), sometimes referred to as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a contiguous transcontinental empire founded by Turkish tribes under Osman Bey in north-western Anatolia in 1299. With the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II in 1453 the Ottoman state…Continue Reading


The Rajasthani people are the native inhabitants of Rajasthan (“the land of kings”) region of India. Their language Rajasthani is a part of the western group of Indo-Aryan languages. Traditionally men wear dhotis, kurta, and paggar or safa (kind of turban headgear). Traditional Chudidar payjama (puckered trousers) frequently replaces dhoti in different regions. Women wear…Continue Reading

Songhia / Sonrai

The Songhai (also Songhay or Sonrai) are west Africans who speak Songhai languages, the lingua franca of the Songhai Empire which dominated the western Sahel in the 15th and 16th century. Photo – ethnicjewels.ning.comContinue Reading

Serouchen / Seghrouchen

The Ait Seghrouchen (Berber: Ayt Seɣruccen) are a Berber tribe of east-central Morocco. They are divided into two geographically separated groups, one on the south side of the Middle Atlas and one on the north side of the High Atlas. They speak a Zenati Berber dialect, Ait Seghrouchen Berber, sometimes grouped with Central Atlas Tamazight.…Continue Reading


The Toucouleurs or Tukulor (or Haalpulaar’en) are a group distinct from but related to the Fula. Unlike the Fulbe, the Tukulor are a sedentary, agricultural people, who live primarily in West Africa: the north of Senegal (where they constitute 15% of the population) in the Senegal River valley, and Mauritania is their background, but on…Continue Reading


The Tuareg (also spelled Twareg or Touareg; endonym Imuhagh) are a Berber people with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. They are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa.  Continue Reading


The Bamileke is the ethnic group which is now dominant in Cameroon’s West and Northwest Provinces. It is part of the Semi-Bantu (or Grassfields Bantu) ethnic group. The Bamileke are regrouped under several groups, each under the guidance of a chief or fon. Nonetheless, all of these groups have the same ancestors and thus share…Continue Reading


The Yaka are an ethnic group of Southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. They number about 300,000. They live in the forest and savanna areas between the Kwango and Wamba rivers. They are very artistic. Many of their religious and cultural customs transcend ethnic boundaries, and are shared with the Suku and Lunda.…Continue Reading


The Wodaabe (Fula: Woɗaaɓe) or Bororo are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, and the western region of the Central African Republic. They are known for their beauty (both men and women),…Continue Reading


Yomut or Yomud is a Turkmen tribe that lives from Gorgan to Turkmenbashi and eastern Caspian shores and Khiva and Dashoguz. The Yomut carpet is a type of rug traditionally handwoven by the Yomut.  Continue Reading


The Zulu (Zulu: amaZulu) are a Bantu ethnic group of Southern Africa and the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with an estimated 10–11 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Small numbers also live in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. Their language, Zulu, is a Bantu language; more specifically, part of the…Continue Reading


The Uzbeks (Oʻzbek, pl. Oʻzbeklar) are the largest Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The art of creating jewelry from precious metals and stones the jewelers…Continue Reading


The Banjara are a class of usually described as nomadic people from the Indian state of Rajasthan, North-West Gujarat, and Western Madhya Pradesh and Eastern Sindh province of Pakistan. They claim to belong to the clan of Agnivanshi Rajputs, and are also known as Lakha Banjara means ‘Lakhapati’, Banjari, Pindari, Bangala, Banjori, Banjuri, Brinjari, Lamani,…Continue Reading

Karen Hill Tribes

Thai and Burmese hill tribes can be traced back to the 12th century, originating from Tibet. The Karen tribe is the largest of around twenty hill tribes whose total population today numbers more than seven million across The Union of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. In Thailand, around 400,000 Karen live at between 800m and 1800m up in the mountainous and densely forested…Continue Reading


Kochis or Kuchis (from the Persian word: کوچ koch; meaning “migration”) are Afghan Pashtun nomads, primarily from the Ghilzai tribal confederacy. Some of the most notable Ghilzai Kochi tribes include the Kharoti, Andar and Ahmadzai. Sometimes Durrani tribes can be found among the Kochi, and occasionally there may also be some Baloch people among them…Continue Reading

Tuareg Hoggar

The Tuaregs of Algeria are part of a larger group of Berber-speaking Tuaregs. They are nomads who raise cattle and live in an area that stretches across North Africa. This territory extends from Western Sahara to the northern portion of Western Sudan. Although the origin and early history of the Tuaregs are cloudy, these tribal…Continue Reading


An ethnic group of Berber People from the southern Oases of Morocco. Believed to be the descendants of those abandoned at the abolition of slavery.Continue Reading


Guedra is the form of Berber Dance in Tuareg. Guedra is what they call the ritualistic dance only when the woman is doing the dance on her knees. If she stands up at all during the performance, it’s called T’bal. The reason for the different names, even though dances are done very similar is unknown.…Continue Reading

Hoggar Tuareg

The Tuaregs of Algeria are part of a larger group of Berber-speaking Tuaregs. They are nomads who raise cattle and live in an area that stretches across North Africa. This territory extends from Western Sahara to the northern portion of Western Sudan.Continue Reading


Originally, the Saharawi were desert nomads who traveled from place to place with their camels. Today, they can be found in the desert in southern Morocco, in the Western Sahara region, in the North of Mauritania, in Algerian refugee camps, and in the Canary Islands. A sub-group of the Moors, they are of mixed Berber,…Continue Reading


The Banjara are a class of usually described as nomadic people from the Indian state of Rajasthan, North-West Gujarat, and Western Madhya Pradesh and Eastern Sindh province of Pakistan.Continue Reading


An ethnic group indigenous to North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are distributed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Niger River.Continue Reading


The Albanians are believed to be descendants of the Illyrians, who were the original inhabitants of the western Balkan Peninsula. In the sixth century, migrating Slavs began to settle on Illyrian territory and pushed the Illyrians into what is present-day Albania. The Albanians are divided into two major groups, the Gheg and the Tosk, according…Continue Reading


Ancestors of the Altaic (Turkic)-speaking Uzbeks emerged in Central Asia as early as the 3rd century B.C. when nomads – possibly Hun descendants – began invasions that continued for centuries.Continue Reading


Turkmen are one of Central Asia’s major people groups, their herdsmen supply world markets with prized Karakul sheep pelts and magnificent wool carpets from their renowned weavers. More than utilitarian or even an art form, carpet weaving is integral to Turkmen culture.Continue Reading


The Sindhi of Afghanistan are part of a much larger Sindhi people group. This larger group is the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan. The Sindhi, named after the Sindhu (Indus) River, are also said to be one of the oldest people groups in Pakistan. Most of them have lived there for centuries and call…Continue Reading


The Karakalpaks (“Kara” meaning black, and “Kalpak” meaning hat) live primarily in northwestern Uzbekistan with smaller populations in Turkey, Iran and other central Asian countries. The Karakalpaks emerged as a confederation of tribes at some time in the 15th or 16th centuries.Continue Reading


Pre-second century inhabitants, they are likely Afghanistan’s oldest. Their traditional homeland lies in central Afghanistan amid rugged mountains – a wildly beautiful, nearly inaccessible region of craggy peaks and rushing rivers called the Hazarajat. Hazara origins are much debated. Their name is from a Persian word meaning “thousand”.Continue Reading


The Baloch (Baluch) are a most ancient semi-nomadic tribal group who eventually occupied an area of land stretching through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, first settling there between the 5th and 7th centuries. Considered to be an Iranian people based on language, their racial origin is murky. Some historians believe they are Semites while others track…Continue Reading


The Parsee people, which literally means inhabitant, are of the Indo-Iranian affinity block. Sindhi is the primary of three spoken languages; the other two being Eastern Punjabi and Dari-Parsi, mostly the language spoken among them in Afghanistan. This people group traces its origin to the Persian Kings of the Old Testament including King Darius, Cyrus,…Continue Reading


Afghanistan boasts the largest  population outside their homeland to the north in Tajikistan. Comprising over one-quarter of the Afghan population, they are the second largest group in the country.Continue Reading


The Argobba are a Muslim people group that is spread out through isolated village networks and towns in the northeast and east of Ethiopia.Continue Reading