The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Not on view
In Peru, from as early as the first millennium B.C. until the time of the Inca in the early sixteenth century, ornaments worn in the distended lobes of the ears were status indicators, made in a wide range of shapes and sizes and in different materials. Among the Moche peoples the most fashionable ear ornaments were those with wide circular frontals and long tubular shafts in back to counterbalance the weight of the frontals. On these earflares the front plates are of sheet gold, to which repoussé silver birds are attached by small tabs. The birds with massive talons and strong, curved beaks depict Andean condors, identified by the large caruncle at the base of their beaks and the wattle around their necks.
Research relating to the Moche peoples of ancient Peru has been substantial over the past forty years, and has yielded new insights on their culture and creations. Archaeologists, historians, art historians, and other scholars have worked hard in order to understand this important ancient American people. Excavators have dug into their temples, their houses, and their tombs, revealing that the powerful were arrayed in death with objects of gold and silver—head pieces and crests, chest plates, necklaces and collars, nose and ear ornaments, and much more. These ear ornaments would have adorned a powerful Moche lord when he was laid to rest.
[Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, until 1969]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1969, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1969–1978
Lapiner, Alan C. Pre-Columbian Art of South America. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1976, p. 159, pl. 389.
King, Heidi. Rain of the Moon: Silver in Ancient Peru. New York, New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000, 3, 31.
Jones, Julie, and Heidi King. "Gold of the Americas." The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 59, no. 4 (Spring 2002).
Pillsbury, Joanne. "The Pan-American: Nelson Rockefeller and the Arts of Ancient Latin America." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin Vol. 72 (2014), p. 27.