India (Tamil Nadu, Chettiar)
Gold strung on black thread; L. (bottom of central bead to end of counterweight) 33 1/4 in. (84.5 cm)
Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 1991 (1991.32.3)
This gold marriage necklace, known as a kalata uru (kala = neck, uru = bead), was tied around the neck of a Chettiar bride by her new husband during her wedding. It was sometimes reused during a celebration when the husband reached the age of sixty. The Chettiars are a Shaivite sect of merchants in Tamil Nadu, many of whom are rich bankers. The necklace is composed of twenty-one gold elements strung on black thread. The central pendant (thali) depicts Shiva with his consort Parvati riding on his bull vehicle Nandi, flanked by dancers. The elements with long projections are thought to represent the hands of the couple.