Home Identifying Kuchi Jewelry Hints For Purchasing Kuchi Jewelry For Sale
Jewelry for Tribal Dance Kuchi Women Links on Tribal Jewelry More Coming Soon!



The story of Kuchi jewelry, like all tribal jewelry, is rich with influences from many cultures.

These beautiful pieces with colorful glass jewels and jingling bells originally came from the nomadic Pashtoon tribes that wandered the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, along ancient routes between the seasons, moving down from the mountains in the winter and back to their homes in the summer. The word Kuchi itself is derived from a Persian word meaning migration, in relation to nomads or gypsies, and does not describe a particular group or people, but rather a state of being. Many different peoples or tribes from these areas have been classified as Kuchi but the original migratory nomads of this area are the Pashtoon. For more on the Kuchi tribes, see this page.

The jewelry of these wandering peoples incorporates design elements from many cultures including those of India, the Middle East, Central Asia and the tribal areas of the former Soviet Union. These jewelry artists used coins, bells, and large colorful glass jewels to produce lovely chokers, necklaces, cuff bracelets, pendants, belts, rings, earrings, headpieces and more completely by hand, often in centuries-old designs. These pieces sometimes incorporated beadwork or embroidery.
  As with many tribal cultures, jewelry makers were most often men and produced jewelry for families or individuals on request or for sale. They used the highest quality components available or that the family could afford. Older pieces were made in good grades of silver whenever possible, sometimes up to 90% and more, but if silver was not available or affordable, they used other metals that were convenient. These might include nickel, brass, tin or other base metals. The metal was melted down to make new pieces of flashing jingling finery that were worn by the women of the tribes for ceremonies and everyday purposes or decorated their animals for protection and luck. The women would then often add beautiful beadwork or embroidery for color and functionality. Modern Kuchi jewelry is made mostly from brass with some nickel and perhaps a small quantity of other miscellaneous metals.


Kuchi jewelry, like the jewelry of India and other tribal places and peoples, often incorporates jewels of transparent colored glass set in with beeswax and backed with foil to reflect light in every shade of the rainbow. Shining mirrors, metallic thread, colorful beads, pom poms, cloves and other fragrant materials, bright fabrics and thousands of different kinds of dangles and bells also serve to attract the eye and ward off evil spirits.

Over the centuries, and most recently in particular, these nomadic tribes have become more settled and don't travel over the great distances that they did long ago. Wars, droughts, borders and poverty have forced them to stay within ever decreasing ranges. These days most of the people once thought of as 'Kuchi' are now settled in towns and villages where they can make a more substantive living. Young people, too, don't wish to live a semi-nomadic life and prefer to live in areas where they can find jobs and a wider social life. Jewelry making is now almost exclusively done for profit and trade with others outside their culture. Unfortunately this means that where pieces were once well-designed and made with care, the quality varies greatly from artist to artist, place to place and even piece to piece.



Trade with the US and other western countries has made the original old pieces a scarcity these days. They can still be found, but usually have a high price attached to them, especially if they are silver. Good quality collectible pieces can still be found once in a while and new pieces abound in both high and low prices and quality. A quality piece, whether new or old, can be told by a nice design, a good feel and quality construction. If you have a question about the value of a piece, do some research before buying or purchase from a reputable dealer where you can make returns if you change your mind or are not satisfied.

You can see examples of some of these pieces at The Red Camel. The Red Camel has been dealing in tribal Kuchi jewelry since 2003 and has built a great reputation within the belly dance community. Please visit my web site or see my other blog entries for more information!  
THIS PAGE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. More will be added as I discover it, or have time to write. Please check back often to see additional info!