What a great beautiful your ring is! How much price? You may feel good in your heart for this appraisal and say thanks to him but if someone asks why you do wear the ring you would be astonished for such question. You may reply him don’t you see that this ornament adorned my finger? People use it as hobby or beauty. Perhaps, nowadays it is most common answer because this product is being used as ornamental jewelry but this product has glorious history. We define finger ring as the ring although there are some other rings used as ornamental products such as earring, neck ring, arm ring and toe ring made of diamond, ruby, sapphire, gemstone, glass, wood, metal and so on. Ring is the witness of many eras. People have been using this product for different purpose such as symbol of authority, social status, and weapon to kill other, expressing love to someone, prize of recognition and antidote of disease centering superstition in different cultures for ancient time.
Where ring is come from? Author of ‘ring through the age’ Berdanier said that, when “a man captured his mate in primitive time, he tied ropes around her waist, wrist and ankles to make sure that her spirit was held under his control”. At one stage ring made of amber, flint and ivory took the place of rope as the symbol of ownership of slavery. In the ancient Roman society the use of ring spread as the symbol of status, wealth which was worn and became the adornment of the body. Beside these purpose when people started wearing ring as the seal called ‘signet ring’, it adorned the finger. As a result, ring ?appeared itself with ornamental demand in human society. People started to think that the ring is a valuable gift from where engagement ring started its journey. Thus ring has been the part of culture, daily transaction and socialization.
Different opinions have been found about the origin of ring. Most acceptable of these is that the ring is originated in East from where its value gradually transferred to Greeks, Egypt ?and throughout the world. Finger ring was found in an ancient city of ancient Babylon in 2500 BC. Ring is produced by Hittites who established there civilization in Mesopotamia. Then, ring was made by faience. Metal ring was made by Egyptian and Greek rings were influenced by their rings. People of ancient Greek made ring from silver and bronze at first. At that time Etruscans started using the gold to make ring. In classical period of Greek ring made of silver and gold became popular as ornamental beauty. In first two AD centuries, people of ancient Roman society started using the ring made of gem along with silver and gold ring. Ring made of gem became familiar as Roman ring. In ancient era, ring was made of several metal and used for several purposes but at present it is being used as fashion such as jewelry, watch, Engagement ring etc.
One of these Purposes of historical use of ring was that the ring was used as seal which is called signet ring. It was the first practical use of ring and used at first in Mesopotamia as cylindrical seal to make sure the authenticity of documents in 3500 BC. Signet ring is the origin of nowadays’ corporate seal. In archaic roman period signet ring was used as authentication of parchment document as the signature of individual or stamp. It was used also as family heirlooms. According to the Biblical document of the book of Genesis, a pharaoh of Egypt gave a signet ring to Joseph probably as the symbol of authority to perform official activities such as business oriented jobs. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used a signet ring as a seal made of silver and inscribed the sentence ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’ on its bezel. In Middle age every dominant person had a signet ring as sign. Every one of signet was different from another by which people could identify the wearer of the ring and making an alternative one was not easy or possible. Thus signet ring was made as the witness of the history of human society.
Another use of finger ring was the symbol of authority. In roman society, pope of Catholic Church could give papal ring to cardinal named fisherman’s ring and Episcopal ring to new bishop for signifying their position.
Social status was another reason to wear ring. At the primary stage of roman republic, the use of gold ring was confined in the society. Only highly officials could wear the gold ring. Other people could wear ring made of iron. The use of gold ring was allowed for knights in 300 BC. In 300 AD using of gold ring extended to the people by roman Emperor but slaves were prohibited to wear this. They were worn ring made of iron belonged their status.
The use of ring during wedding ceremony is recognized throughout the world. Engagement ceremony came from the roman pagan society, they were celebrated this ceremony. It was established by roman as their custom although it was meant that by giving this ring a man could belong a woman as his slave or wife in ancient roman society. They worn the ring in 3rd finger of left hand because they thought that the artery of love is connected to the heart directly and heart is in the left side of chest. Another opinion about wedding ring is, in prehistoric period, husband would tie his wife with grass to protect her soul from going out of his control. The place of grass took by respectively rope, leather and metal product. In archaic Egyptian society this ring were exchanged by both of groom and brides.
There are various superstitions about ring in human society, such as people wear ring as antidote of disease based on superstition. People thought that, ring made of several metal have magical power so they wear metal ring blindly being inspired by others. Using ring as weapon to kill someone is amazing called poison ring. It is consist of compartment as bezel in which poison could be hold and used when it was necessary.
Beside this historic description, some important information about ring is found in Devine book such as the holy Quran and the Bible. In the explanation book of the holy Quran named Tafsir Ibn kathir and Tabari, there is a narration as the explanation of two verses of holy Quran of a Sura (named ‘alsoad’, verses no, 34-35) that Prophet Solomon had a ring in which bezel inscribed ‘Ism azam’(good names of Allah). He administrated the whole world by that ring along with jinn. That ring was stolen by a jinn for that Prophet Solomon lost his power to rule this world. After 40 days he regained his ring by the kindness of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not use any ornament but he used a signet ring for official document made of silver. Several Hadith are narrated about his ring in Sahih bukhari, sunane imam tirmidi(Chapter of ring). In Islamic perspective only ring made of silver is approved for men but other metal ring is prohibited specially made of gold. The ring made by Gold, silver, wood, glass, rubber, plastic, gem, stone, diamond, sapphire, as the element of ring for female, are approved. Owner of the ring is bound to pay Zakat if the amount of asset will go to Nisab (suggested amount).
Anyway, using of ring for beauty of fashion probably started in 18th century. At present, people use several types of ring made of jasper Jems, Diamond, Wedgwood etc. Everyone should follow his religious value and norms during the using ornament who believes in creator, to gain earthy happiness and hereafter emancipation.
The writer is pursuing Masters at the University of Dhaka