Pair of Earplugs
Arts of the Americas
These exquisite ear ornaments would have been worn by Chimú rulers as a symbol of their wealth and authority. On each the central figure, wearing a large headdress, circular earrings, and a wide collar ending in profile snake heads, sits on a double-headed serpent bench. His face is partially obscured by an awning decorated with repoussé birds and geometric designs. The long posts, which were inserted through the earlobes, are decorated with finely engraved geometric motifs alternating with birds, serpents, and other creatures.
Estos exquisitos ornamentos para las orejas pueden haber sido usados por gobernantes Chimú como símbolo de poder y autoridad. En cada uno, la figura central, llevando un gran tocado, aretes circulares, y un ancho collar terminado en cabezas de serpientes de perfil, aparece sentada en una banca en forma de serpiente bicéfala. Su cara está parcialmente oscurecida por un toldo decorado con pájaros en relieve y diseños geométricos. Los largos postes, que se insertaban en los lóbulos de las orejas, están decorados con motivos geométricos finamente grabados, alternando pájaros, serpientes y otras criaturas.
5 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (13.3 x 13.3 x 13 cm) (show scale)
Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
This item is not on view
Chimú. Pair of Earplugs, 1100-1500 CE. Hammered gold, 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (13.3 x 13.3 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.224.19a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.224.19a-b_bw_acetate.jpg)
overall, 86.224.19a-b_bw_acetate.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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How would these have been worn?
If you look closely at the back you will see the tapered tubes that stick out and these would have been inserted like earrings into holes in the ears that would have been made bigger by stretching (similar to 'gauged' ears now). The amazing thing about these is, if you look closely, even the long posts which would have been inserted in the ears and not necessarily seen, have elaborate intricate carving on them.
How were these ear ornaments kept from falling out?
The posts would be inserted through the earlobes, much in the way that people still wear plugs in their ears today. The wide front would rest against the ear and the rods in the back would likely tip back slightly from the weight. Usually these types of ear ornaments would be/are enlarged gradually, so the opening in the earlobe stretches to accommodate the width.