Ancient "Madalaya"; barrel-shaped amulet in sterling silver from Rajasthan - North India. This pendant is quite new; dating back about 20 years.
These barrel-shaped silver amulets have been used for hundreds of years to contain mantras and prayers that protect their wearer.
Worn by gypsies for protection, these amulets were dedicated during a puja. A mantra or prayer was probably inserted just before the locket was sealed. These cylinders cannot be opened, since they must preserve the prayers and wishes.
According to Hindu cosmology, these amulets must be protected from people who could be able to desecrate them, otherwise they could be ritually contaminated and lose their powers. The wearers will therefore try to protect them daily from bad karma.