Hair braid ornament

DATE:
19th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold, rubies, and emeralds
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 18 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 1 3/8 in. (46.99 x 5.72 x 3.49 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
OBJECT NUMBER:
1996.211

General Description

This exquisite piece of jewelry comes from the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Hair ornaments such as this one served to adorn a long braid. Traditionally in India, women do not cut their hair unless they are widowed. The long hair is either tied in a bun or worn in a braid. The top of this ornament consists of an image of a five-headed cobra associated with the gods Shiva and Vishnu. Beneath the image, pieces of gold are linked together that allow the braid to move freely.

Adapted from

Anne Bromberg, The Arts of India, South East Asia, and the Himalayas (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Have: Yale University Press, 2013), 138-139.