Pre-Columbian, north coast of Peru, Sican/Lambayeque culture, ca. 750 to 1370 CE. A pair of hammered gold ear spools with very long, cylindrical silver tubes for insertion through the ear. The face of each spool is essentially identical, each featuring a standing lord with a foreshortened body, a huge, crested and feathered headdress/crown, and spool earrings that, one can imagine, if one could look closely enough, would feature another standing lord… Each lord is set into a border, with the edges of the spools crimped, giving them a ridged texture. The silver tubes are hollow, stamped with repeated sun, wave, and square motifs. Based on patina, these seem to be attached to the gold faces via a copper pin. Size of each: 2" W x 3.45" H (5.1 cm x 8.8 cm); 4.2" H (10.7 cm) on included custom stand.
These earrings were made to adorn the body of a deceased elite member of the Sican society - gold was for lords, silver for noble women, and copper for wealthy commoners. Sican elites were patrons of workshops that made fine metal objects like this one, and they took their wealth with them when they died. Buried in mounds, they would be entombed in high style in deep shaft tombs, seated in mummy bundles, with extensive grave goods. The lord featured on these earrings is Naymlap, the traditional founder of the Lambayeque dynasty, who came from the south by sea and colonized the region before, it was said, sprouting wings and flying off into the sunset in a dramatic display of his magical powers. Scholars believe that he was worshipped by his descendants, and silver and gold vessels, weapons, and jewelry are all adorned with his likeness.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex G. Hendershott collection, Alaska, USA
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Patina on both, indicative of their great age. Excellent condition, with beautiful preservation of motifs. Very slight bending to end of one of the tubes.