Not just casually, every form included in this necklace has a meaning, however remote it is. In Indian jewellery traditions a snake’s form, linear or sculptural, is one of the most frequently occurring elements now for ages. Besides the Naga tribe and other tribal populations, though a minor deity, the snake has been widely worshipped by Indians of any sect : Hindu – Vaishnavites or Shaiva, Buddhist, Jain and others. Snake is associated also with Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh sect. Apart that a serpent attended upon Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Jain Tirthankara Parshvanatha, the Buddha is claimed in the Buddhist scriptures to have given ‘Dharma’ – Order, to ‘nagas’ – snakes, for protecting it and to hold till the mankind was wise enough to know the truth. As many popular Hindu myths have it, the earth is held over the hood of Shesha, the Great Serpent. Tantrism under any sect that equated with serpent the ‘Kundalini’ – coiled dormant energy residing in human form, attached to snake far greater significant than it had under any body of thought or sect. In various Tantric systems as well as in medical sciences world-over the snake is the symbol of long life and good health. Obviously now for ages, a snake form is one of the most powerful amulets assuring good health and long life.
This unique significance of serpent in Indian myths and hence in her traditional jewellery apart, in this necklace the serpent form has some new contexts. Besides that the star-like shaped large turquoise bead, and another, a deep red coral, embedded on the serpent’s mid-body symbolise fertility and riches which as the holder of the earth the serpent represents, its ‘Mani’ – Great Gem holding hood represents an absolutely different dimension. The Great Gem that a crescent-like shaped turquoise embedded over the hood represents is the mythical ‘Mani’ reputed to transform into gold any metal it touched. Great Serpent, Pannaga is the mythical custodian of the ‘Mani’. As such, not a routine serpent form, the pendant is a representation of the great ‘Mani’ carrying Pannaga. Obviously, worn close to heart, the Great Serpent insures not only good health and long life but also tremendous rise in fortune and good luck. The crescent form of the ‘Mani’ links the Serpent with Lord Shiva who it constantly attended.
The strands that the necklace comprises are divided practically into three sections on either side of the pendant from which they radiate. The lower half, adjacent to the pendant on its both sides, consists of nine strands gathered in bunches of three each at both ends that fine polished turquoise, coral and silver beads define. The middle section, almost the same length as the lower, into which the nine strands merge, consists of three strands. The upper-most, shorter in length, consists of a four-petalled flower composed of beautifully polished turquoises contained into a square that holds all three strands of the middle section, a series of silver, turquoise and coral beads, a bell form with a beautiful coral bead embedded in the centre, and another, on the top set cap-like, and finally, a ring and stone bead to lock the two ends. Besides the Talismanic power of turquoise and coral as amulets, and of course the serpent pendant, the wild cherry-form or tiny skulls both are endowed with great amuletic powers.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.