pendant suspended from a garland of twin rudraksha berries; central gold piece depicting two figures on a bull; one emerald pendant at bottom split during installation, two pieces stored in envelope in A12.3 MS

Rudrakshamala Necklace, early 19th century

This elaborate gold necklace once adorned the neck of a Brahman priest or wealthy Chettiar (a male member of a mercantile community with roots in Tamil Nadu in southern India). He would have worn it on very special occasions, or donated it to a temple. Its chain, made of Rudraksha beads from a tree believed to be sacred to the Hindu god Shiva, is attached to three golden lozenges decorated with rubies and semiprecious stones. The central amulet depicts the divine couple, Shiva and Parvati, flanked by their two sons, Ganesha and Murugan. Kaumari, a goddess related to Murugan, appears on the clasp astride her vehicle, the peacock. The bottom amulet would have contained a lingam, an abstract representation of Shiva, or sacred ash, allowing it to function as a portable shrine.

Details
Title
Rudrakshamala Necklace
Role
Artist
Dimension
L.17-1/2 x W.(at widest point in pendant)4-3/8 x D.1-5/8 in.
Accession Number
92.132.1
Curator Approved

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pendant suspended from a garland of twin rudraksha berries; central gold piece depicting two figures on a bull; one emerald pendant at bottom split during installation, two pieces stored in envelope in A12.3 MS