Traditionally in Tamil Nadu these gold necklaces or rudrakshamalai ornamented with rubies and in this case also diamonds, were worn by males over the age of 18, or by Shaivite priests. This is attested to by the central figure of Shiva Nataraja (Lord of the Dance) flanked by male and female deities and yalis or mythic griffins carved into the gold panels on either end of the necklace. The hinged pendant serves as a container for a portable lingam and vibhuti or sacred ashes from a ritual fire often used to anoint the body. (O. Untracht, Traditional Jewelry of India, London, 1997, p. 39). For an image of a male of the devout Chettiar community, see op. cit. p. 158. A very similar necklace was sold at Sotheby's, 14 April 2010, lot 190.