women wear peraks that resemble the flayed hood
of a cobra; a wide band of turquoise trails down the back. From
a distance, the serpentine analogy is further enhanced by the
placement of the pieces of stone which resemble scales on snakeskin.
The tantric Buddhist Vajrayana cults of Ladakh
venerate the cobra as ‘king of the nagas,’
or serpents. The cobra is often portrayed hovering over deities
and, by association, the wearer is believed to be protected by
her perak. The turquoise adornment is symbolic,
as nagas are considered guardians of the earth’s
mineral wealth--and icons of fertility. Ladakhi society is polyandrous,
and a woman’s disposable income goes to accumulating items
to adorn her perak. Full-length peraks
are the sartorial prerogative of wealthy married women. The family’s
wealth and the matriarch’s individual worth can be calculated
by her peers with one glance at her headdress.
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Lindsay Hebberd. All rights reserved. No text or images from this
website may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or
by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission
in writing from Cultural Portraits Productions, Inc.