Native American

Ear Plug

Artist: Unkown

Culture/People: Chumash

Place: Central and Southern California

Media: Wood, abalone shell, and asphaltum

Dims: 2.75 x .75 in. (7 x 1.9 cm).

Date: c. 1750

Description: This may have been one of a pair.

The Chumash are an Indigenous people of southern California, they occupied three of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. Their historical impact in Southern California has governed modern place names where the Chumash once lived included Malibu, Lompoc, Ojai, Pismo Beach, Point Mugu, Piru, Lake Castaic, and the Simi Valley.

Archaeological research demonstrates that the Chumash have deep roots in the Santa Barbara Channel area and lived along the southern California Coast for millennia.

…exceptional for the abalone shell inlay which gives the ear plug a radiant iridescence. The small shell beads inset in the colorful abalone shell gives it a mystique hinting at an aura of supernatural power.  —Ralph T. Coe

Watch Leah Mata Fragua talk about this piece on Collections Spotlight, July 21, 2020.

RTC No: NA1414
Gift of Ralph T. Coe, 2011

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