India has a rich history when it comes to jewellery. Innumerable types of jewellery have been mentioned in our oldest scriptures as well as holy texts. Every region in India has jewellery & customs of its own, creating a stunning variety of jewellery. On our search for such exquisite pieces, we came across another strikingly beautiful ornament hailing from God’s own country, Kerala - The Nagapadi Tali.
The Nagapadi Tali is delightfully royal in its appearance and has been prevalent in Kerala since ancient times. It was one of the most well-known ornaments among the Nair community residing in Kerala. According to old scriptures, the necklace got its name ‘Nagapadi Tali’ due to its remarkable & uncanny resemblance to a snake’s hood. (Nagapadi - snake hood, Tali - necklace)
When it came down to design & detail, the most commonly seen Nagapadi tali was made in gold with beautiful pieces of green glass. Each jeweller used glass while making this necklace and cut it so as to resemble emeralds shaped like a snake’s hood. This is why the Nagapadi Tali is also fondly known as the cobra hood necklace.
Many times, these necklaces were made with rubies or diamonds as well depending on the social strata of the wearer. An aristocratic version of the same necklace is seen in history where brilliant and dazzling diamonds had been used. In some Nagapadi tali types, a temple spire or a gopuram type of a formation was also seen fashioned above the cobra hood structure showing respect towards religion.
While admiring this exquisite necklace, many questions arose as to why the snake form was used here. The reason lay hidden within the gorgeous scenic beauty of Kerala. Kerala is blessed with an extraordinarily extensive forest area & therefore many snake forms found their way into their jewellery designs. The people believed that snakes held qualities beneficial to fertility, good luck, prosperity & progeny. This theory was also found to be true in the universal language of jewellery as snake forms have been relatively abundant throughout jewellery designs worldwide.
The women of the Nair community still hold the ornament very dear to their hearts. They have always believed that this ornament is present to them from the Gods & has helped instil good values like calmness & patience within them. It is fascinating to see that an ornament holds so much emotional value to them & continues to charm jewellery lovers throughout the world.