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Creator Nationality: African
Creator Name-CRT: Zulu, South Africa
Title: Earplugs (Isiqhaza)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1900
Creation End Date: 1990
Creation Date: 20th century
Creation Place: South Africa, Africa
Object Type: Costume and Jewelry
Classification Term: Ear ornament
Materials and Techniques: Wood, tile (vinyl asbestos), metal
Dimensions: Depth: 3/16 - 1/4"; diameter: 2"
Description: Pair of front and rear saltwood disk earplugs worn in perforated, distended ear lobes; decorative outer layer of vinyl asbestos tile multi-color mosaic pieces, fastened to wood with metal nails; white background tile with central band of black, red, blue tile shapes and center design of white diamond flanked by white triangles creating hourglass motif; inverted triangles above and below center band with black, blue, red and green tile mosaic; each front and rear disk with 2 parallel slits for attachment.
AMICA Contributor: Brooklyn Children's Museum
Owner Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
ID Number: 90.9.1a-d
Credit Line: Museum purchase, 1990
Context: From the 19th century to the early 1920s, every Zulu child's ears were pierced as part of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Pierced ears are also as a distinguishing mark of the Zulu people. Small polished bone and ivory disks were favored as ear insertions. By the 1920s, their ritual significance had been lost and earplugs were worn by women as a fashion element. The first earplugs were hardwood disks, then soft woods with painted motifs on white backgrounds. The 1930s brought plastic overlays, and by the 1950s vinyl asbestos tile cut as mosaic pieces was the most common design element. Plexi was used in the 1960s-1970s. Earplugs then lost favor, and since the 1980s clip-on earplugs have been preferred. The design colors often indicate the wearer's region, clan, and station in life, and imitate beadwork patterns.
AMICA ID: BCM_.90.9.1a-d
AMICA Library Year: 2003
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