Marriage necklace (chettiar thali)

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 3

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At A Glance

  • Period

    late 19th-early 20th century
  • Geography

    Tamil Nadu state, India
  • Material

    Gold, black cotton cordage
  • Dimension

    H (without yarn): 91.5 cm (36 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    This marriage neclace consists of 16 gold tubular beads of stamped cross-hatched design strung on a thick black cord. These are interspersed with 7 large pendants of which four have a distinctive handlike shape. A spire rises perpendicularly from the center of each of these and its finial has eight facets representing the eight directions. The loop of each pendant has the same cross-hatched design as the beads. Just below is an applied panel depicting a "hamsa" (swan) symbolizing tranquility.
    On one side is a round pendant decorated with lingas and representing a rudraksha bead. On the other side is a 6" long cylindrical pendant. The central comb-shaped pendant may indeed represent a comb, which in Mysore symbolizes a happy married life (Elwin). This has a repousse image of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, seated on a lotus. Her lower right hand is raised in the "abhaya" mudra while the lower left hand is in the "varada" mudra.
  • Inscriptions

    Each of the four hand-shaped pendants and the central comb-like pendant have the same Tamil inscription on the back: tee ka roo cho. The central pendant has an additional letter which stands for Pillayar (Ganesha).
  • Provenance

    François Rabier, Brussels, Belgium, method of acquisition unknown [1]
    From 1991
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from François Rabier [2]
    [1] See invoice from François Rabier to the Freer Gallery of Art, dated November 19, 1990, copy in object file. Object is described as “One Big Chettiar Thali Necklace.”
    François Rabier is a dealer in Brussels, Belgium that has been active in Brussels since in the 1980s and specializes in sculpture, jewelry, and other three-dimensional objects from Africa and Asia, including China, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Rabier exhibits and sells objects in his gallery and through auctions, including online auctions. He has also previously participated in the art fair BRUNEAF (BRUssels Non-European Art Fair). He has operated under the names Dominique and François Rabier, Brussels, and François Rabier Asian & Tribal Art, Brussels.
    [2] See Freer Gallery of Art “Acquisition Consideration Form,” marked approved on April 25, 1991, copy in object file.
    Research updated March 1, 2023
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Gold: The Asian Touch (September 10, 2005 to February 20, 2006)
    South and South East Asian Art (May 9, 1993 to February 7, 2000)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    François Rabier
  • Origin

    Tamil Nadu state, India
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • Type

    Jewelry and Ornament
  • Restrictions and Rights

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