Taditional Indian Jewellery – Jadanagam
The Jadanagam of South India, or, literally, the hair-serpent, is worn by brides to decorate braided hair. The rakkadi at the back of the head in the shape of the sun, symbolic of brilliance and power, is followed by the crescent moon, evocative of calm and peace. The third piece is the fragrant thazhambu flower (screwpine).
Then comes the ruby and diamond-studded many-headed divine cobra, Ananta, below whom are seen three rows of the cobra’s coils. From here the jewellery for the braided hair starts. Designed in the form of flowers and buds, it consists of separate pieces interlaced to form a supple ornament. Towards the end of the braid it bursts out into 3 silk tassels held together by encrusted bells.
This bridal jewel was also adopted by Devadasis, or temple dancers, who considered themselves the brides of the temple deity. This tradition has continued to this day when we see Bharat Natyam dancers wearing the Jadanagam or, where it is not available, a substitute woven out of flowers.