Pair of Earflares with Multifigure Scenes

Date: 12th–15th century

Geography: Peru

Culture: Chimú

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: Diam. 5 1/4 in. (13.5 cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection, Gift of Jan Mitchell, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.419.67, .68


At the time these earflares were made, precious metals were so plentiful on Peru's northern coast that personal ornaments worn by the elite had become large and ostentatious. Flares like the present example were worn by prominent Chimú men in big holes in the distended earlobes, the thick shafts in back—which are hollow—counterbalancing the weight of the frontals. The ornaments, surprisingly light weight considering their size, are worked on the front with complex multifigured scenes. The central image is of a distinguished Chimú lord wearing an enormous fanned-out headdress and big circular earflares. Holding a beaker and a fan, he stands on a litter borne on the shoulders of two attendants. They too are men of rank since they also wear ear ornaments and headdresses. The cut-out and repoussé designs of the flared headdresses echo the rhythm of the small spheres encircling the rims of the frontals. The shafts are embellished with a delicate chased repeat of crested birds in a diamond grid.