Ear Ornaments with Masked Figures

Ear Ornaments with Masked Figures

1450–1532 CE
Chimú | Inca
Peru, north coast
pair, ear spool
Gold alloy
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Joyce and Ted Strauss in honor of Robert Stroessner

Unknown Chimú or Inca artist, North coast, Peru. Ear Ornaments with Masked Figures, 1450–1532 CE. Gold alloy. Denver Art Museum Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Strauss in honor of Robert Stroessner, 1991.1018.

Mayer Center, Arts of the Ancient Americas
Arts of the Ancient Americas
This object is currently on view

Ear Ornaments
About A.D. 1450–1532
Peru, north coast
Gold alloy
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Strauss in honor of Robert Stroessner, 1991.1018A&B

Within the multiethnic Inca empire, dress was strictly regulated and reflected both ethnicity and rank. Only nobles were permitted to wear ear ornaments. The Spanish called these nobles orejones (big ears) because of their stretched earlobes. This pair or ear ornaments has shafts decorated with birds and waves, while the round fronts feature male figures wearing short, wide tunics and large headdresses. The figures wear masks that dangle from hinges, suggesting that the figures are shown participating in a ritual. The ear ornaments were probably manufactured by a craftsman from the north coast Chimú kingdom, which remained an important center for manufacturing and exporting under Inca domination.

Known Provenance
Andre Emmerich [1924-2007] (Andre Emmerch Gallery), New York. (Sotheby's), New York, Sale date December 16, 1988, Lot 17; Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Strauss [1931 - 2022], Englewood, CO, 1988; Gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 1991

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