Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Biggest Ethnic Earrings Ever? (Karo Batak "Padung-Padung")

Here are a few historical photographs (1900 - 1935) from my digital archives, showing how the Karo Batak women of North Sumatra wore their Padung-Padung ear-weights, which were massive, normally solid silver (sometimes with low-karat pink-gold appended elements). They were fastened through the flesh-loop of distended earlobes, and then "pinched" into the cotton cloth headdress to support the weight (which earlobe flesh alone could certainly not support). I have weighed old Padung-Padung and it's not unusual for them to be over 2 kilos . . . of solid coin silver . . . that is a significant chunk of stored wealth.


I have many other historical photographs of Padung-Padung, if anyone's doing research on the subject.


It's interesting to note as well, how Padung-Padung seem to have been worn by women who owned them and could afford to own them, for a variety of activities and situations, and perhaps as a more-or-less everyday form of ornament.






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Comment by Sarah Hawkes-Bartlett on November 16, 2014 at 21:49

I'm curious, when and why did these stop being worn?

Comment by Alaa eddine SAGID on August 20, 2011 at 23:31

very rich iconography, thanx.


There is obviously two models of the padung padung, the most interesting being the one with star-sahpe volume studded on the coiled part.



Created by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 10, 2017 at 4:03pm. Last updated by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 17, 2017.


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