A Short History of the Toe Ring

by Alexander Baran
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In the United States, as in most countries, toe rings serve mainly as a fashion accessory for the foot.  What most people don’t know however, is that toe rings have a very interesting history.  In India, a toe ring is worn on the second toe of the left foot of a Hindu woman to symbolize marriage. This would be similar to the traditional wedding ring in Western culture. Some women in India wear them on just one foot, both feet, or have a set for all five toes. The rings are usually crafted in a hoop form that’s open in the back for easy removal. Men also sometimes wear them to symbolize strength and masculinity. Toe rings are referred to by different names in different cultures; in Hindi a toe ring is called a bichiya (pronounced: bee-chee-ya).

Toe rings were introduced to the United States around 1973 by Marjorie Borell.  After returning from India, she started selling and manufacturing them in New York at her own trendy retail outlet called Fiorucci.  She eventually sold her designs to other companies and the idea took off.  The wearing of toe rings in India is still a commonly practiced custom today, and they remain a sought after fashion accessory in the United States as well.

by Alexander Baran

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