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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Ear-spool

A type of ear ornament of pre-Columbian jewelry worn in a large hole made in a greatly distended ear-lobe.

It was made of gold or tumbaga as a cylindrical tube that was inserted in the lobe and that had affixed to the front a circular frame, often ornamented with cut-out designs and repoussé work. A rear section was attached telescopically to the tubular section to secure it to the lobe. It was worn in the same manner as an ear-flare.

Some examples were further decorated with suspended ornaments, sometimes in the form of a fringe of snake-like dangles. The wearing of ear-spools by the Incas of Peru was restricted to the adult male nobility, a custom dating back to the Chavín culture, c. 900 BC.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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