by Sarah Corbett
A nath is a piece of jewellery used in India which is worn through a piercing in the nose. Nath are worn extensively by Indian women, however the tradition is likely to have originated in the Middle East, it is likely that the Mughuls brought the nath to India.
The nath is worn in a nasal piercing in the left nostril of Hindu girls, the piercing is made when girls are around 5 years of age.
On her wedding night the bride wears a nath, which will be attached by a piece of chain to either the hair or an earring. The nath is ceremonially removed by the bridegroom to symbolise the end of his new wife’s virginity. The word nath is derived from the Hindu word Naath, meaning husband.
A nath or nose jewel is worn by married women, but not by widows. Belief states that the wearing of a nose ring eases childbirth and mensturation.
The nath does not appear in early art or sculpture in India, and is first present in 16th century Rajput paintings. Historically Middle eastern Muslim women did wear nath.
Some religious scholars do however mention that ‘Shree Devi’ ( goddess) is pictured wearing a nath, and that her followers are encouraged to offer nath to her.