VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Eardrops
VME 96.39.251-1.2
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Nowadays customs have changed and the use of ivory eardrops is almost extinct. Only some elderly people wear them. They are therefore very difficult to find.

History of the Object
The Ma people who live in the Central Highlands file their teeth and make holes in their earlobes to look beautiful. Ivory eardrops were popular. The bigger the hole, the more beautiful it was considered. After having pierced the ears young Ma started a long and hard process to make the hole bigger and bigger. At first, they hung a small piece of bamboo in the hole and then replaced it step by step with heavier pieces. When the earhole reached a certain size, pieces of elephant tusk were used. Elephant tusk was precious and rare, only few families could afford it, therefore, tusk was only worn during important ceremonies. The eardrop was an expression of the social position and economic power of the owner and the family. In the past, these eardrops were never sold or exchanged for other products. They were kept in the family and often buried with the owner.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Elephant Tusk 
Measurements
diameter: 4 cm and 3,5 cm. 
Creator name
Mr. Ko Bri 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Vietnam; Lam Dong; Central Highlands 
Geography
Vietnam 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1956 
Function
Objects of beauty 
Acquisition
Mr. Ko Bri purchased the elephant tusk and made the eardrops when he was over 50 years old. He used them until 1996 when museum staff visited his house. He sold them to the museum. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, State property of Vietnam 
Museum
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology 
Credit line
 

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