Formally speaking, many ethnic bracelets have a place in two worlds - the prehistoric world, the traditions of which have been carried into the 20th century by many ethnic groups, and that of contemporary artistic jewellery, inspired, whether admittedly or not, by the works of far-off gold and silver smiths. Decorated with henna, tattooed or less frequently scarified, limbs have always been subjected to transformations - ephemeral or lasting. A female statuette discovered during the excavations of Mohenjo-Daro and photographs of Karen or Masai women show that arms and legs have always vanished beneath a mass of bracelets - from the beginning of time to the present day. Just like rings and earrings, bracelets and ankle ornaments mark the transitions in a person's life - small bangles that tinkle at the slightest movement protect children from evil spirits in the Middle East. Any worthwhile Jewish bride in Sana'a must wear several pairs of fine filigree bracelets and Bengali brides receive a shell bracelet to guarantee numerous offspring.
Upper-arm bracelets made from wild boar teeth, the symbol of the Kankanay in the Philippines, mark the passage to adulthood after an accomplished headhunting expedition. A flat ivory bracelet rewards the courageous Dinka elephant hunter of Sudan and when it is time to set off on the final journey, men and women are adorned a last time with bracelets, such as those in jade seen in Chinese burials. The book A World of Bracelets has a double angle. It's authoritative content, based on the Ghysels collection, and remarkable photographic quality makes it suitable for art historians, anthropologists and jewelry collectors and connoisseurs. Yet it is also appropriate for the fashion and design worlds. Ethnic jewelry and art are hot topics and are a constant element in today's fashion and interior design.