Necklace

DATE:
1820–1860
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold, pearls, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
12 3/4 × 4 3/8 × 3/8 in. (32.39 × 11.11 × 0.95 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley in memory of his mother Lucy Ball Owsley via the Alconda-Owsley Foundation
OBJECT NUMBER:
1999.2

General Description

This elaborate necklace from Thanjavur may have been associated with jewelry worn by practitioners of Bharatanatyam, a classical south Indian dance form that originated in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was originally performed in temples by highly trained and educated women who served the deity and thus did not marry. Performers wore elaborate costumes and jewelry that reflected the wealth of the temple to which they belonged. This necklace could also have belonged to the wife of a wealthy gentleman.

While it is not clear whether this particular necklace was part of a temple dancer's regalia, its overall style is typical of such items of jewelry. Its chain of pearls and gold, interestingly, suggests influence from the north Indian Mughal court. The basic form of the Mughal-style long necklace (patadi har) has, in Tamil Nadu, taken on the appearance of a flower garland. This particular necklace evokes the form of Shiva lingam and of peacocks.

Adapted from

  • Catherine Asher, "Necklace" in The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas, Anne R. Bromberg (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 138.

  • Anne Bromberg, DMA unpublished material, 1997.