Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Marriage Necklace (Thali)

late 19th century
India (Tamil Nadu, Chetiar)
Gold strung on black thread
Bottom of central bead to end of counterweight: L. 33 1/4 in. (84.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 1991
Accession Number:
Not on view
Elaborate necklaces of this type were presented by the groom’s family during wedding celebrations of the Chetiar community, a Shaivite mercantile caste, and form part of the bride’s wealth (stridhan) thereafter. The marriage necklace was initially part of marriage dowry gifted to the bride by the groom at a climactic moment in the marriage ceremony, the three knots ritual. This form of necklace is known as a Kali-Tiru, whilst the more elaborate type, which typically includes the central Shiva and Parvati on nandi medallion, a Thali. The four fingers of the central form are often described as denoting the four Vedas.
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