Object Record

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Catalog number 2002.7.3
Title Ear spools
Object Name Spool, ear
Description One of the most stunning small pieces in the collection, a pair of ChimĂș ear spools from the central or north coast of Peru dating from 1200-1500 C.E., reveals a unique technique employed in Andean feather art. Here, the ear spool's blue, black, and red feathers are glued onto a wooden backing and trimmed into a flower-like pattern emanating from the center. One should note the slight difference in patterning between the two ear spools, for such variations reveal the difficulty of maintaining the strict precision in patterning that can be found in other art forms such as ceramics or woven textiles. But what these objects and other examples of feather art may lack in uniformity, they make up for in their remarkable sense of texture and color that cannot be replicated in any other media. Ear spools consist of a round circular disk with a long thick post that is inserted into the ear. They were worn by elite males from the Moche (1-600 C.E.) up through the Incas, serving as one of the principal visible markers of their privileged social status. The featherwork of the ancient Andes remained an uninterrupted artistic tradition for over a millennium, with the production of certain types of feather pieces lasting even after the Spanish conquest of 1534. Feather art remains strong in select Amazonian communities today that continue to use feathers for the creation of ceremonial costumes and other ritual purposes.

Citation: Extract taken from essay by Ananda Cohen Suarez "Featherwork of Ancient Peru," in "Natural and Supernatural: Andean Textiles and Material Culture," (G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, September 8 - October 24, 2009), 24.
Medium/Material Wood and feathers
Dimensions L-1.5 Dia-3.5 inches
Year Range from 1200.0
Year Range to 1500.0
Search Terms Americas
South America
Chimu 1200 -1500 AD
13th century AD
14th century AD
15th century AD
Exhibition and Publication History *"Natural and Supernatural: Andean Textiles and Material Culture," Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, CUNY, September 8 - October 24, 2009.

*King, Heidi, "Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Pre-Columbian Era," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, 2012, p. 172, plate 44.
Culture ChimĂș/Peruvian