Ancestral Earrings

Tanimbar islands, Moluccas

Gold

19th Century

2 x1.5 in/5 x 3.5 cm

These stylized human figure earrings look more like Japanese robots but derive their shape from an archaic, archetypal omega form, representing the female sex and symbolizing fertility. Only nobles could have gold earrings, which were handed down as heirlooms.