Plait Ornament (Jadanagam), Gold; inset with rock crystal, rubies, emeralds, and amethysts

Plait Ornament (Jadanagam)

Object Name:
Head ornament
18th–19th century
Attributed to India, probably Madras
Gold; inset with rock crystal, rubies, emeralds, and amethysts
L. 23 3/4 in. (60 cm)
Max. W. 3 1/4 in. (8 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1919
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
This type of plait ornament, typically worn by brides and dancers, is called a jadanagam (hair serpent) for the grouping of snakes may once have been attached to its topmost disk. This disk and the crescent shape below represent the sun and the moon. Decorated in the kundan technique in which hundreds of rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and pieces of rock crystal were inset into malleable gold foil and made flush with the surface of the ornament, the entire object would have sparkled with the movement of its wearer. In Hindu tradition, a woman’s braid was associated with Triveni Sangam, the sacred confluence of three rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythic Saraswati.
Lockwood de Forest (American), New York (until 1919)
Untracht, Oppi. India: A Jewelry Spectrum. New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 1998. no. 340, p. 60.