Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

These are really heavy Dayak ear weights. I don't normally wear them, as they are too heavy, but I just wanted to show them in the ear. I don't know if the picture shows it, but they are really very large.

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Comment by Annka on February 17, 2012 at 21:03

You're welcome! 

I wish I could travel around Borneo... or had an older sister in Sarawak.. :)

Comment by Frankie Carter on February 17, 2012 at 18:10

My older sister and her husband lived in Sarawak for quite a number of years in the early sixties and so had a fair amount of contact with the Dayaks. It meant that, as a teenager, I was treated to postcards of them in their environment and also received some of their artifacts as gifts (now long gone by the wayside). I too was fascinated by the fact that those massively stretched earlobes did not break.

So I join with the others in thanking Annka for her very clear explanation as to why this can come about.

Comment by Joost Daalder on February 17, 2012 at 12:53

That's a very informative statement Annka: thanks!

Comment by Annka on February 17, 2012 at 12:05

Right, because the ear tissue contains more collagen, and with wearing heavy jewelry from an early age, the lobe toughens up. The problem with stretching too fast is pressure on the tissue restricting blood flow, which can lead to gangrene. The body probably will strengthen the blood vessels under pressure when starting at a really early age. Also, the main problem with stretching with weights is the weight distribution on the tissue usually ends up with the tissue at the bottom of the lobe thinning. I just find it fascinating how even their lobes look, even the really long lobes. I tend to pierce higher up on the lobe on customers that intend to stretch a lot, to leave a lot of tissue under the jewelry.

Comment by Joost Daalder on February 16, 2012 at 22:39

Yes, Annka: it is indeed because the earlobe is stretched very gradually, starting at a very early age with something small, and then very gradually adding more over time. Hence the lobes fully get the opportunity to stretch and remain strong. If too much weight was put into them all of a sudden, they would certainly snap. But tradition is powerful and knowledgeable, and in several cultures has successfully applied itself to this task for a very long time.

Comment by Annka on February 16, 2012 at 19:54

Yes, I have seen some women with ears down to their armpits. As a professional piercing artist, its a mystery to me how their lobes don't snap, as is a somewhat common problem when stretching with weights. Must be because they start so young.

Comment by Marie-Ange on February 16, 2012 at 16:57

Wow these must be very heavy indeed, we saw people in Borneo wearing these and their lobes were stretched very very much as you can imagine.



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