Ankle bracelet, ankle chain, anklet (whatever you prefer to call them) – a pretty souvenir you tend to see a lot in any hot, tropical or beach destination, often with a boho/gypsy vibe to them. I’ve got a few.
You see them at home in high street shops as well, especially in the summer – they’re just a piece of pretty jewellery right?
These days, ankle bracelets are largely seen as accessories/fashion items, but after doing a quick bit of curious digging, it turns out there’s been a lot more to the simple ankle bracelet than serving as a pretty trinket. It goes deeper.
Ankle Bracelet History Lesson
Here in the west, ankle bracelets are generally nothing more than a fashion accessory but historically in other cultures they’ve carried symbolic meanings.
I’ve read all sorts of bits and pieces, claims about who wore ankle bracelets first, and what century….
Egyptians keep coming up as the initiators of ankle bracelets and that they were originally worn as a marker of wealth and status.
Elaborate anklets of precious stones and precious metals.
Slaves would wear string or leather ankle bracelets.
In modern day Egypt – ankle chains are still worn by dancers as an accessory rather than any other deep symbolic meaning.
India is another key player. I’m not entirely sure how much of this is still customary but it’s interesting:
Unmarried Indian women would wear anklets that would make a jingling noise when they walked – helping to draw the attention of potential husbands and generally signal the approach of a woman so that she’d be received respectfully.
Anklets were/are a popular wedding gift for an Indian woman.
Some other theories out there suggest worshipers of a deity known as ‘Baal’ allocated ankle bracelets to be worn by prostitutes.
The Swinging Sixties
Ankle bracelets also became linked to the 60s/70s sexual liberation era, though this association is virtually non-existent today.
By contrast, other countries like India, embraced the anklet deeper into its culture, which continues to this day.
South East Asia and the Middle East
In other parts of the world, a bride would wear anklets attached by a chain to shorten her steps and make her walk in a more feminine/dainty way.
Well back in Victorian England, ankles were deemed too ‘provocative’ to be seen on display so I guess you didn’t see many ankle bracelets back then.
So where does all that leave the modern day ankle bracelet then?
I think it’s fair to say, most women who wear anklets these days have no clue about their past history or connotations attached from different cultures and eras – we’re just buying them as we would any other piece of jewellery.
There are even suggestions of health benefits linked to wearing ankle bracelets these days!
It’s never a bad thing to be aware of how things used to be and how others view things across the globe, it’s all very interesting!
Ankle bracelets are not alone though.
If you do a bit of research, you’ll find most items of jewellery have their own histories, varying across cultures with different meanings and symbolisms, so there you go…..
19 thoughts on “Ankle Bracelet Etiquette: Forgotten Souvenirs”
A great article for those who don’t know the history behind the ankle bracelet!!
Thanks for your informative article on ankle bracelets! Might you make a post on toe rings one day? : ) R
Thanks Rebecca, you never know…. never really gave it much thought 😊
This is an interesting read. ♥️
Very interesting. I was not aware of this history and the meaning in other cultures.
Me neither 😊 definitely very interesting.
I still have mine from the late 60s. I wore it every day and it never came off until I got a job after high school. It is in a trunk with all my other days gone items. They keep coming back into style.
You’ve hung onto it for a long time, without managing to break it/misplace it ✨ that’s great. Yes they’re always around – especially in the summer months 🔆
Glad to have read this! Sent it to my daughter because years ago when my daughter was 8 or 10, she wore an ankle bracelet and my mother was horrified. She said only prostitutes wore them! I told her I didn’t know what century she was pulling her information from but I asked my daughter not to wear it around her grandmother. Glad to see that meaning wasn’t pervasive throughout all the countries who wear them!
Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any negative meanings attached these days. It seems pieces of jewelry (and fashion items in general) have carried all sorts of different meanings throughout history, depending on which part of the world we look at. Hope this post reassures your mum too!!😊
Thanks for reading.
My Life in Our Father's World
I learned something new today. Thank you.
Thanks for reading💫
An interesting post!
Such an interesting read 👍🏾
Thank you for sharing a brief history of the ankle bracelet. I didn’t know the history went as far beck as ancient Egypt. I found this post interesting.
Thanks for reading, yes it’s interesting, I had no idea about the Egyption connection either – not somewhere that springs to mind when I think of ankle bracelets ✨
Please check 🙌 and follow our page😍 @resolutecouple