A street in Chettinad outside the jeweller, Muthumanickam's house and workshop

In Chettinad,

the streets are clean...and empty

The goldsmiths of Chettinad

Jeweller Muthumanickam's workshop in Chettinad.
Three jewellers working on creating the kalathiru necklace


and other milestones.

Sacred work

A freshly made kalathooru that will be strung together the day before the wedding.
Young jeweller, Balaji, making jewellery


Symbol of a wedding

Chettiar marriage necklace. Kali-thiru. The elaborate Thali type, as seen here, generally includes a central Shiva and Parvati on a medallion. The four fingers of the central pendant are understood as denoting the four Vedas. 19th century. Met Museum.
A freshly unwrapped kalathooru. The groom's family will string it together the day before the wedding.

Gift from the groom's side

Exclusive to land and people

Jeweller with the metal die in which the kalathiru parts are cast.

Jewels are markers of milestones, keepers of faith and in some occasions, the most sacred of possessions.