A nakashu-velai necklace




South India


Late 19th or early 20th century


Forging, repoussé, gem-setting


Gold, rubies, topaz, pearls, coral, silk


Pendant 108x78 mm

The rhomboid gold pendant is decorated with a relief image of the Shiva Family (Shiva Parivaar) under the baldachin surrounded by vegetal motifs. Shiva and Parvati sit in the centre, while their sons Ganesha and Kartikeya stand on the sides. In addition, there is the sacred bull Nandi, the Shiva’s mount animal (vahana), as well as a pair of peacocks that are the mount animals of Kartikeya. The baldachin is set with a coral bead in a gold cup at the top and a faceted white topaz in a gold bezel mount just below. Three drop-shaped pearls are suspended from a bottom of the pendant. The pendant is attached to a string with numerous faceted gold beads, and each fastening loop is set with a cabochon ruby.

COMMENT. Nakashu-velai is a spread South Indian jewelry style that is based on the use of the nakashu (or nakshi, nakkashi) technique, known as repoussé in the Western world. The relief decor on the obverse side of a thin metal sheet is created by the stamping or hammering from the reverse side, after which fine decorative details are chased or engraved on the surface. The surface could additionally be decorated with granulation and filigree. Local artisans often use malleable metals such as silver or brass, but they cannot compare with pure gold. In South India, nakashu is one of the three main methods of making temple jewelry, along with the characteristic techniques known as "kall-velai" (closed setting of precious stones) and "kundala-velai" (another gem-setting technique resembling the North Indian kundan). It allows you to form magnificent jewelry from a small quantity of metal with intricate embossed decor teeming with fine details.