Thali (pendant)

DATE:
Early 20th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Gold
CLASSIFICATION:
Jewelry
DIMENSIONS:
10 1/8 × 8 1/8 × 2 in. (25.72 × 20.64 × 5.08 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
303 ISLAMIC GALLERY
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alconda-Owsley Foundation in memory of Mrs. Juanita K. Bromberg
OBJECT NUMBER:
1999.168

General Description

Marriage ceremonies in India are very elaborate, lasting many days and including substantial symbolic rituals. Gold is the traditional form of dowry for the bride; this gold is the woman's life insurance should any disaster befall her or her family. The girl's family provides the gold in the form of jewelry. This item of jewelry, known as a thali (pendant), is among the pieces provided to brides in the southernmost part of India in the area today known as Tamil Nadu. At the time of the actual marriage ceremony the groom ties the thali around the bride’s neck. The size of the thali and its ornament reflect the wealth of the bride's family. This thali likely belonged to a woman of a wealthy merchant class. The top features apsaras, elegant and beautiful female celestial beings, beneath whom are mythic beasts seen in profile. In a centrally placed niche is an image of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess associated with love, wealth, beauty, and fertility. These attributes invoke the ideal bride and wife, and during the wedding ceremony the bride is considered to embody Lakshmi.

Adapted from

Catherine Asher, "Thali (pendant)," 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), 135.