A tayo bizakani necklace




Nepal, Kathmandu


Late 19th or early 20th century


Casting, forging, chasing, embossing, gem-setting


Gold, topaz, glass, velvet


Overall length 345 mm; pendant size 82x141 mm

The necklace consists of a massive gold amulet pendant and a soft collar with a gold clasp. The hollow octahedral amulet pendant of pointed oval form is surmounted with a multi-headed serpent called nagpas. A small gold pendant with a red-colored glass bead is hanging out from each mouth. Lower down there is a paleswan-ha ornament symbolizing the lotus leaves. It consists of two mirror-symmetrically arranged large green-colored glass cabochons. A coral cabochon and a faceted white topaz are set between them. The broad collar (biza) consists of two parts connected by a circular clasp (paka). Each part of the collar is covered with red velvet and adorned with nine gold plaques embossed with dancing peacocks and flower borders. The clasp is embossed with concentric beaded bands and a border ofstylized serpent heads.

COMMENT. Tayo bizakani is a type of Nepalese ceremonial women’s necklace, which is of great symbolic meaning and religious value for the Newars, the historical inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley and one of dominant ethnic groups of Nepal. The necklace is made of gold or gilded copper, and the most important part is a massive faceted amulet pendant of pointed oval form called "tayo". An ideal tayo should have eight facets that symbolize the four directions and the four corners of the Kathmandu Valley. Newar women use tayo bizakani in important ritual cases, including marriage ceremonies. In addition, it is an attribute of Kumari, a prepubescent girl who is considered a living incarnation of the Hindu goddess Taleju, also known as Durga, but is periodically selected from the Buddhist Shakya clan of the Newar community. The young "Living Goddess" is worshiped by both Nepalese Buddhists and many Nepalese Hindus. While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, the most senior and well known is the Royal Kumari (Raj Kumari) who lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the centre of Kathmandu city. The presented necklace is an eloquent testimony of the Newar craftsmen’s skill. Similar examples can be seen in some Western museums and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. no. 1978.389), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (inv. no. M.79.242, see Pratapaditya, P. Art of Nepal: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection. – Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1985. – P. 52 and 140, no. S69), and the Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva (inv. no. 2504-8, see Bala Krishnan, U.R., Untracht, O., Levin, C. Inde: Bijoux En Or des Collections du Musée Barbier-Mueller / Édité par L. Mattet. – Paris; Genève, 2004. – P. 172-173, no. 38). For more information on the tayo bizakani necklaces, see Bajracharya, P. Tayo-Bizakani: A Newari Ceremonial Necklace // Arts of Asia. – 2001. – Vol. 31, No. 3. – P. 69-77.