Monday, January 30, 2017

Ear Plugs as a Sign of Inca Noble Status

Inca noblemen wore elaborated jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, pendants, ear plugs and nostril rings.

Wearing enormous plugs in the lower part of the ear, close to the lobe, was a sign of great status among Inca noblemen. Young noble boys received their first ear piercing and ear plugs during the annual Splendid Festival, when they were first recognized as adults. The materials, colors, and size of man's ear plugs indicated the status. Therefore, these plugs were made as large as possible, and were composed of precious metals and rare stones. By wearing them, the noble men developed stretched ears. The Spanish conquistadors called the Inca nobility "orejones," or "big ears." Within the Inca society, the large ears with ear plugs were considered prestigious.

Many precious metals and stones came from the northern edge of the Inca Empire, the modern-day Columbia.

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