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Pairs of silver alloy ear plugs such as the pair here were worn Javanese women in the early 20th century and earlier. The examples here are of gilded (gold-plated) silver and possibly some copper. The two are set with faceted clear stones or glass in box settings arrayed as flower blossoms, against a dark felt background. The thick posts are of gilded sheet silver and are decorated with a band of fine filigree at their bases. The backs of the posts are similarly decorated with silver filigree wire which has been arrayed as a flower to match the stone-set front.
Jasper & Pirngadie (1930, p. 123) suggest that this particular type of ear plugs was manufactured in Semarang on Java’s north coast.
Daalder (2009, p. 179) illustrates a similar pair, as does Vanderstraete (2012, p. 309).
The two have an obvious patina from use. One is noticeably heavier than the other and the stem has slight differences to the other – and yet the two are obviously a pair. These differences underscore the hand-made nature of the two.
Daalder, T., Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Ethnic Art Press/Macmillan, 2009.
Jasper, J.E. & Pirngadie, De Inlandsche Kunstnijverheid in Nederlandsch Indie IV: de Goud en Zilversmeedkunst, 1930.
Richter, A., The Jewelry of Southeast Asia, Thames & Hudson, 2000.
Vanderstraete, A., Magie van de Vrouw: Weefsels en Sieraden uit de Gordel van Smaragd (The Magic of Women), Wereldmuseum, 2012.