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Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, people carefully avoid speaking disrespectfully of snakes: the cobra is called nalla tambiran "the good lord" or nalla pambu "the good snake" (cf. also my gallery: Naga Cult - Snake Worship - in Tamil Nadu, India http://www.pbase.com/neuenhofer/naga_cult_in_tamil_nadu ).
The snake earrings of South India, pambadam, shall remind of real cobras. They have been common in South India at least since the 19th century. The Journal of Indian Art 1891 describes the ear ornament "representing the cobra with extended hood". They are worn by all communities except Brahmin. Old women in southern districts of Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala can still be seen with the large earrings in extremely distended lobes. … Each woman knows exactly the gold weight of her pambadam: at least 16 g. Pambadam are not hereditary and are sold or melted at the demise of the owner.
The unique shape of the earring has caused many attempts of interpretation in the west, from pecking birds to saddles. But goldsmiths in Nagercoil explained however, pambadam represent without any doubt a stylised egg-laying cobra, coiled on her nest, her head erect and her hood wide spread.
The circles on the hoods of the cobra are believed to be the footprints left by Krishna dancing on the heads of the defeated Naga Kaliya. On the "hood" of the pambadam earring, the footprints are always depicted as a large round appliqué. The cobra wears on its head the mani or precious jewel, which is visible in the earring as a pyramidal knob, while the big balls represent the snake's eggs. Have a look at my gallery about snake worship in South India: Naga Cult - Snake Worship - in Tamil Nadu, India http://www.pbase.com/neuenhofer/naga_cult_in_tamil_nadu ).
Text: Waltraud Ganguly, Snake earrings of India, their social, religious and symbolical context. For further details see http://asianart.com/articles/ganguly/index.html
Have a full preview of my book about Dravidian deities (120 pages with lots of photos ) in German: AYYANAR UND MARIAMMAN, DRAVIDISCHE SCHUTZGÖTTER IN SÜDINDIEN and in English: Christa Neuenhofer, AYYANAR AND MARIAMMAN, FOLK DEITIES IN SOUTH INDIA (see below).
AYYANAR UND MARIAMMAN, DRAVIDISCHE SCHUTZGÖTTER IN SÜDINDIEN by Christa Neuenhofer | Make Your Own Book

AYYANAR AND MARIAMMAN, FOLK DEITIES IN SOUTH INDIA by Christa Neuenhofer | Make Your Own Book

The English book also exists in a low-cost version as an ebook . ISBN: 978-1457955617: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/417542-ayyanar-and-mariamman-folk-deities-in-south-india
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738
Pambadam - Snake earrings in Tamil Nadu. http://www.blurb.com/books/3782738