Braid ornament (choti)

This long, tapering gold braid ornament is composed of 15 segments, the last being a small crab or fish-like piece. The first segment has a repousse depiction of Krishna playing the flute and dancing under the canopy of a multi-hooded serpent. Each of the succeeding 13 segments are composed of double gold leaves in which a floral medallion with a red glass center nestles. Each of the flowers is composed of different design elements. However, the row of gradually diminishing circles form a handsome “spine” for this braid ornament.

The ornament is made of gold sheet with chased and repousse decoration. A soft filling of lac is backed with silver sheet. Black cords passing through the three silver loops soldered to the back of each section hold the sections together.

Historical period(s)
late 19th-early 20th century
Medium
Gold, silver, cotton, and rubies
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 40.5 x 10.1 cm (15 15/16 x 4 in)
Geography
India, Tamil Nadu state
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1991.5
On View Location
Freer Gallery 01: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
Classification(s)
Jewelry and Ornament, Metalwork
Type

Ornament

Keywords
black and white inlay, chasing, flower, India, inlay, Krishna, repousse
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

This long, tapering gold braid ornament is composed of 15 segments, the last being a small crab or fish-like piece. The first segment has a repousse depiction of Krishna playing the flute and dancing under the canopy of a multi-hooded serpent. Each of the succeeding 13 segments are composed of double gold leaves in which a floral medallion with a red glass center nestles. Each of the flowers is composed of different design elements. However, the row of gradually diminishing circles form a handsome "spine" for this braid ornament.

The ornament is made of gold sheet with chased and repousse decoration. A soft filling of lac is backed with silver sheet. Black cords passing through the three silver loops soldered to the back of each section hold the sections together.

Label

Gold jewelry given to a bride remains her property throughout her life. A liquid asset that may be sold in times of need, it is also desired for its beauty. The elegantly tapered form of this hair ornament evokes the poetic archetype of the beloved's braid as a sinuous snake. The largest medallion depicts the Hindu deity Krishna dancing beneath a multi-headed serpent.

Published References
  • Dr. Carol R. Bolon, Amita Sarin. Metaphors in Gold: The Jewelry of India. vol. 6, no. 4 New York, Fall 1993. pp. 24-25, fig. 7.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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