South India, Tamil Nadu Region, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. Presenting mesmerizing geometric designs that rival the abstraction of avant garde sculpture - a beautiful pair of 20K gold sheet Thandatti ear ornaments. The term Thandatti actually derives from the stem of the sandalwood tree and is inspired by the custom of stretching the earlobes by wearing pieces of wood. Thandatti earrings are created from thin sheet gold placed over a lac core. Although Thandatti are oftentimes quite sizeable, they are actually very light in weight. These striking ear ornaments are trditionally worn by women of the Velalar Nadar class in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Thandatti are a stylized variant of the serpent earrings that Lord Shiva wore, when as Nataraja he performed the cosmic dance of creation known as tandava. Magnificent ear ornaments that bring to light a beautiful Hindu tradition! Size: each earring measures 1" L x 1" W x 1.375" H (2.5 cm x 2.5 cm x 3.5 cm); Total Weight: 20.3 grams
Earrings like these would have been given to daughters by their parents before a marriage of prestige and as a symbol of fertility. Examples can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva, Switzerland.
A very similar pair of Thandatti ear ornaments sold for 3,750 pounds ($5,031) at Bonhams, London (Islamic and Indian Art, 8 October 2013, Lot 246) - https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21359/lot/246/
Cf: "A World of Earrings from the Ghysels Collection" p.121,325 publisher: Skira 2001; "Earrings: Ornamental Identity and Beauty In India" by Waltraud Ganguly publisher B.R Delhi; "Traditional Jewellry of India" by Oppi Untracht
Cf: U. Bala Krishnan and M.S. Kumar, Indian Jewellery: Dance of the Peacock, Mumbai, 1999, pg. 172, ill. 259.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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