Well, it's not a platypus, but what is it?
June 3, 2007 5:32 PM   Subscribe

When and where does this little ornamental object (maybe a brooch) come from? Any guesses? I cut the picture out of a National Geographic several years ago, but I know nothing about it, and I'm getting curious because I like it a lot.

Additional questions: what kind of bird is it? What kind of stone do you think that is? Where could I find more information (or somebody who might know)?
posted by dreamyshade to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any guesses?

Pelican, turquoise and copper. Just guesses. The bird is adorable, for some reason. Very pretty trinket!
posted by iconomy at 5:42 PM on June 3, 2007

Best answer: It's from Sipan, on the north coast of Peru. I think it's an ear plug, and the image is a muscovy duck.
posted by nomis at 5:47 PM on June 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

Some more info on this page:

Scroll down a bit for the duck image.
posted by nomis at 5:50 PM on June 3, 2007

This image shows the shafts at the back of the plugs that go through holes in the ear lobe, in case you were wondering how they are worn.
posted by nomis at 6:02 PM on June 3, 2007

So cool, nomis....an earplug.
posted by iconomy at 6:31 PM on June 3, 2007

Response by poster: Cool! Thank you for identifying it (and so quickly). It's fun to see more pictures after staring at mine so much, and now I have a bunch of cultural context to learn about. I'm not sure Muscovy ducks look quite like it, but it does look like a duck of some kind.

The one in that picture is in much better shape (looks like this one) -- do you think it's the same object after some restoration, or a different one, maybe a reproduction?
posted by dreamyshade at 6:42 PM on June 3, 2007

Best answer: Martha Cooper was the National Geographic photographer who photographed that Sipan ear ornament with the representation of a Muscovy duck. You can buy a poster of one of her photographs of that artifact from allposters.com.
posted by RichardP at 6:55 PM on June 3, 2007

The Moche are pretty awesome. I saw an exhibition of Moche pottery at the Harvard Peabody museum a while ago, and some of the pieces were just phenomenal.
posted by zamboni at 7:47 PM on June 3, 2007

Response by poster: Follow-up: If you're curious, I wrote a blog post about what I figured out with the help of these answers. :)
posted by dreamyshade at 3:03 AM on June 10, 2007

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