Mangamalai, mango necklace. Gold, pearls, rubies and semi-precious stones; 27cm x 4cm. Thanjavur or Tiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu. c. 19th century. J/JG/252(2).
Sometimes known as the temple jewelery of the South, the ruby-set gold jewellery of the past was characteristically heavy and used 24 carat gold in large necklaces with pendants and hair ornaments. This necklace is made up of a garland of mangoes, the sacred fruit of the gods and a symbol of fertility. Traditionally worn by women of well-to-do families and by devadasis, temple dancers, these ornaments today adorn the idols of deities installed in shrines and during important festivals when devotees appear before the deity for darshan.