5185

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Indian Gold Gajalakshmi Hair Ornament

Tamil Nadu, South India
19th century

height: 4.8cm width: 4.6cm, thickness: 1.3cm, weight: 20.95g

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Provenance

UK private collection

This gold ornament, which today could be worn as a pendant, is from Tamil Nadu, and possibly from a workshop in the important pilgrimage city of Madurai.

It was used as an ornament on a long hair braid on the back of a woman’s head. It is of high-grade gold sheet over a lac core and with a silver backing plate. It would have been worn on festive occasions.

The front is decorated in relief with Lakshmi being lustrated from either side by elephants, beneath a hooded cobra canopy which is suggestive of the snake-like quality of the woman’s braid. This form of the goddess is known as Gajalakshmi. This aspect like most other aspects of Lakshmi is representative of prosperity, good luck, and abundance.

The pendant is decorated with two rows of gold spheres as well as an addition sphere to the top, making a total of thirty gold spheres.

The reverse of the pendant has a single silver lug or square loop to permit suspension.

The ornament is in excellent condition.

A related example is illustrated in Aitken (2004, p. 12).

References

Aitken, M.E., When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection, Asia Society & Philip Wilson Publishers, 2004.

Bala Krishnan, U.R. et al, Icons in Gold: Jewelry of India from the Collection of the Musee Barbier-Mueller, Somogy, 2005.

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