This massive pendant and necklace (it weighs almost one kilogram) is a marriage necklace from Tamil Nadu. It is made from thick silver sheets, silver rings and silver chain. Black cotton cord segments also have been used. It is unusually large and is filled with lac.
Marriage pendants were given to a bride at the time of her wedding and usually were worn until the first anniversary of the marriage. They were specific to communities and castes in Tamil Nadu. This example is from the Kongu Velalar community from Kongu Nadu around Tiruchirapalli (Trichinopoly) in Tamil Nadu. The community was largely agrarian and worshipped nature gods of the fields and forrests alongside the more mainstream Hindu gods.
The image of the pendant here is believed to be a stylised, anthropomorphic image of a man. It is decorated with a large, single cabochon ruby or similar red stone mounted in a box setting. Other decoration comes from applied silver plates, ribbing and wire-work.
The top of the pendant includes a small snake-like cobra hood or face.
The reverse is decorated with applied wire-work with a tree-of-life motif.
A very similar example, but in sheet gold, is illustrated in Bala Krishnan (2005, p. 142-43).
The necklace and pendant are in fine condition and have obvious age.
Bala Krishnan, U.R.et al, Icons in Gold: Jewelry of India from the Collection of the Musee Barbier-Mueller, Somogy, 2005.
Daalder, T., Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Ethnic Art Press/Macmillan, 2009.
Untracht, O., Traditional Jewelry of India, Thames & Hudson, 1997.