Ear ornaments

900–1440 CE
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General Description

Prestige was conveyed not only through finely woven textiles, such as tunics, mantles, and headdresses, but also through facial and bodily ornaments. In particular, ear ornaments were common status markers in the Andes for over 3,000 years. By the Late Horizon (1400-1532 CE), golden ear ornaments were worn exclusively by the Inca under their imperial control. These silver ear ornaments reflect the craftsmanship of pre-Inca Chimú metallurgists. They have a wide plug and decorated rim, which features “S”-scrolls and step motifs.

Adapted from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text [1983.W.991; 1983.W.992; 1976.W.997; 1976.W.1000.a–b], 2015.

Fun Facts

  • In his 1976 report, Junius B. Bird, curator emeritus of South American archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History, notes: "Chimu - Late Intermediate Period. No number. Pair of incomplete ear ornaments (might be restored)."