A pendant (from Old French) word "pendre" and the Latin word "pendere" which means "to hang down" is a loose-hanging piece of jewellery, generally attached by a small loop to a necklace, when the ensemble may be known as a "pendant necklace". A pendant earring is an earring with a piece hanging down. In modern French "pendant" is the gerund form of “hanging” (also meaning “during”).
One of the earliest types of bodily adornment is the pendant. Primeval man liked to put a tiny hole in a beautiful rock and slip a string usually made of grass or vine so it could be hung around the neck. Shells and other indigenous materials could also be used. In Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs normally wore scarab beetle pendants to symbolize their wealth and power. Royalty and nobility in Egypt also wear a certain type of pendant called a cartouche.
Pendants can have several functions, which may be combined:
- Award (i.e., Scouting Ireland Chief Scout's Award, Order of CúChulainn)
- Identification (i.e., religious symbols, sexual symbols, symbols of rock bands)
- Ostentation (i.e., jewels).
- Protection (i.e., amulets, religious symbols)
- Self-affirmation (i.e., initials, names)
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