Ear Ornament with Masked Figures
About A.D. 1450–1532
Peru, north coast
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.
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