A PAIR OF ZULU EAR PLUGS

In former times an ear piercing ceremony was performed on every child before puberty. The earlobe was pierced with a sharp piece of iron. Pieces of corn stalk were placed in the holes, and as the ear healed larger and larger pieces were put into the hole until it was large enough to accommodate earplugs.

The distended earlobes were adorned in early times with circular plugs of wood, sometimes decorated with metal studs. From about 1950 to 1970 pieces of synthetic floor covering were applied in mosaic fashion to one or both sides of the earplugs. The colors relate to those of traditional Zulu beadwork, and some color combinations may indicate clan affiliation or other aspects of an individual.

The long standing Zulu practice of wearing earplugs is associated with both men and women.

Zulu tribe, South Africa
Wood, Bakelite and iron, 7 x 7 cm diameter each.

Price:  €  225,-