An anklet or ankle bracelet is a chain or other material worn around the ankle. It may be worn tight like a leather strap or may dangle an inch or two. Anklets have been worn for thousands of years within different cultures. Sometimes the ankle bracelet has a significant meaning, while other anklets are worn just for beauty. Even today, people enjoy the sparkle of a dainty ankle bracelet and wear all types, from a slim silver one to a more chunky costume jewelry anklet.
The ancient Sumerians lived in the Mesopotamian region about 4500 years ago. Unearthed Sumerian graves shows that this civilization was the first in recorded history to leave evidence of wearing bracelets, including ankle bracelets. It is believed that the wearing of jewelry by a wife showed how wealthy her husband was. Graves also reveal the Sumerians wore finger rings, toe rings and necklaces.
The rich and the poor of ancient Egypt both enjoyed wearing jewelry, including anklets. Egyptian royalty wore anklets made of precious stones and metals. The upper eschelon of ancient Egypt were well known for coveting beautiful pieces of jewelry and were very trendy and interested in fashion. The poorer people in Egypt also wore ankle bracelets, but these were inexpensive and may even been used to display amulets or lucky talismans. Later centuries would call these pieces of jewelry charm bracelets.
It’s believed that the styles of ancient times traveled down the Silk Road. Jewelry dealers brought bracelets, including anklets, to the empire of Persia. The archaeological site known as the Golden Mound yielded over 20,000 pieces of fine Persian jewelry. Many of the pieces contained precious gems like lapis lazuli and amethyst.
Indians have worn ankle bracelets for centuries. Their love for this jewelry is even instilled in their literature. The story of Shilappadikaram tells a fanciful story of an unfaithful husband who briefly falls in love with a woman who wears a magic anklet. Today’s Indian wedding customs still include wearing anklet bracelets as a part of the ceremonial wedding garments. Indian women wear some of the most extravagant anklets in the world featuring lots of tiny chains, bells and charms. Silver is a popular medium for Indian anklet bracelets.
The ankle bracelet became popular in the United States in the twentieth century. In the 1950s bobby sockers wore the jewelry to enhance their white socks. In the 1970s, women began wearing anklets that featured their name or initials. While they can be worn by men or women, the ankle bracelet continues to be more popular with women. Today, you can purchase any type of ankle bracelet, from a simple hemp strand to a delicate golden filigree rope. Anklets are considered a permanent fixture of American fashion.