This second volume of a multi-volume series on the Gbysels collection -- probably the most comprehensive and beautiful collection of ethnic jewelry in the world -- presents nearly 800 extraordinary objects, most of which have never been shown to the public before, coming from Africa, Asia and America.
Since time immemorial, earrings have been a means of seduction for women. Craftsmen the world over have set their imaginations to work, using every available material. Firstly they used flowers and grass, feathers and horns, wood, shells, and ivory. Mines and alluvional deposits offered stones and metals. Bold travellers and adventurous sailors set off in search of exotic goods.
Their symbolism is also rich and complex: for the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya, a person's prestige is measured by the number of ear ornaments, as long as their lobes can stand without tearing. Statues of Buddha show him with long ears. In the archipelagos of Indonesia, the suitor's family offers earrings to seal an alliance. Leather earrings with pearls are a sign of a married woman's status for Masai. In the Philippines and among the Naga headhunters, the men's hunting exploits and prowess as warriors are embodied in the jewellery theywear on their ears.