Traditional Indian Jewellery – Linga Padakka Muthu Malai
In this Linga Padakka Muthu Malai (a garland of pearls with a Lingam pendant) from Tamil Nadu, rows of pearls end in a pendant in which the Lingam, the symbol of Shiva, is shaped out of an emerald and set in an elaborate encrusted base supported by two bejewelled peacocks with their rich plumes swinging upward. The lower pendant has the usual lotus motif.
It was believed in ancient India that flawless pearls prevented misfortune and were therefore favourites with kings. South India has been famous for its pearls, and pearl necklaces with elaborate pendants were seen in plenty in the medieval courts of Vijayanagar and Thanjavur.
Sometimes the pendant enclosed a scroll of sacred words worn as an amulet to ward off evil. Figures of the family deity were often engraved in gold and encrusted with stones in the pendant.