This fine pair of white brass circular ear weights was designed to be worn by a Dayak woman through her elongated ear lobes. Each comprises ten brass rings.
They helped to stretch the lobes as far as possible. Once the lobe was used to carrying a certain number of rings, then another could be added, and then another. Wearers did need to be careful to manage the process however: a women with a broken earlobe who could no longer wear such ornaments faced a degree of social ostracisation.
The Dayak people are indigenous to the island of Borneo which is shared by three countries: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. The pair here are believed to have been collected from the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo.
They are in excellent condition with a fine patina.
Chin, L., Cultural Heritage of Sarawak, Sarawak Museum, 1980.
Invernizzi Tettoni, L. & E. Ong, Living in Sarawak, Thames & Hudson, 1996.