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Kazhuththu Uru (Chettiar Marriage Necklace)
1994.5001
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

An elaborate pattern, multiple techniques of execution and its large size qualifies this thali as a masterpiece. This particular thali is larger than most marriage necklaces of its kind. Its central pendant bears four spikes representing the four Vedas (knowledge). This is surmounted by an image of the Hindu deity Subrahmanya with his parents Shiva and Parvati. This motif is further repeated four times on the two pendants on either side. The craftsmanship of this piece is also complex, incorporating repousse, carving, chasing, granulation and filigree techniques.

History of the Object
This wedding thali (marriage necklace) was used by the Nagarathar Chettiar community of Tamil Nadu. It is considered to be an auspicious ornament and is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck after they have exchanged their vows before a sacred fire. Besides the wedding day, the ceremonial necklace is also worn on shashtiabdapurti, a ceremony celebrating the husband’s 60th birthday. This marriage necklace is typically given to the Chettiar bride by her parents; a portion of the gold for it comes from the groom's family thus symbolising the union. Even today, Chettiar brides wear similar necklaces. These marriage necklaces usually comprise 35 pieces: 15 in the lower row, 14 in the upper row and three central pendants in each row. They are all strung together by 21 lengths of twisted string. The owner’s initials, ‘rukku’ are inscribed at the back of each padakam (pendant).

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
gold pendants strung by 21 lengths of twisted strings smeared with turmeric 
Measurements
94.5 cm 
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Tamil Nadu, south India 
Geography
India 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th century 
Function
This marriage necklace is typically given to the Chettiar bride by her parents; a portion of the gold for it comes from the groom's family thus symbolising the union. It also highlights the religious affiliation of the owner. It is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck after they have exchanged their marital vows before a sacred fire. Besides the wedding day, the ceremonial necklace is also worn on shashtiabdapurti, a ceremony celebrating the husband’s 60th birthday. It can be worn on other very special religious or social occasions. 
Acquisition
The Museum purchased it in 1994. The necklace illustrates the material and socio-religious culture of the Chettiars - an important ancestral community of Singaporeans of South Indian descent. It complements the display simulating Chettiar lifestyle including the video of a wedding ceremony documented by our curators. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Gauri Krishnan and Priya Jaradi 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 

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