Large circular ear ornaments were popular personal adornments of prominent ancient Peruvian lords and a symbol of their status and wealth. The weight of the frontal, which could reach widths of more than four inches, was counterbalanced by a long tubular shaft that went through the distended hole in the earlobe. Particularly impressive are those earflares with colorful mosaics. On this pair, bird-headed (or masked) winged runners, worked in turquoise, sodalite, and spondylus shell, hold bags in their outstretched hands. Their eyes and beaks are sheathed in gold. They may be depictions of mythological messengers.
[John Wise, Ltd., New York, until 1964]; Alice K. Bache, New York, 1964–1977 (partial gift from 1966)
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.