University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Object Number: 18023N
Current Location: Collections storage
Provenience: Marquesas Islands
Length: 1.8cm
Width: 1.8cm
Credit Line:Gift of William Pepper, 1891


Plug or cap for ear ornament. Ornament, of carved bone, was formerly used by chiefs' wives and daughters. The ornament is made in two pieces: the cap, usually made of shell, which has a cavity which is lined with soft wood. Into this fits a shank which extends from one end of the ornament proper. The usual material for the latter is said to have been bone from the skeleton of a relative of the original wearer, the figures representing ancestors. These ornaments were highly valued and were inherited in the female line.

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