Three Extremely Rare Ear Piercers, Marquesas Islands
ta'a puaika/ta'a puaina
Human bone, wood, turtleshell, coconut fiber sennit
lengths 4 7/8in (cm 12.6), 3 3/4in (9.5cm) and 2 1/2in (6.35cm)
Private Collection, California
Cf. Kjellgren and Ivory (2005: figs 38 and 39)
According to Kjellgren and Ivory (ibid: p. 73), "Marquesan body art found perhaps its most diverse expression in the adornment of the human ear. Over the course of their lives, men and women wore a variety of ear ornaments ranging from ephemeral forms, such as flowers, to more durable examples in bone, ivory, shell, and porpoise teeth. All of these ornaments were worn inserted through a large hole in the earlobe. Ear-piercing was a signal event in the life of every Marquesan child. The ear-piercing ceremony, known as tui i te puaina or oka, was performed when a child was six to ten years of age...
...The actual piercing of the ears was performed by a tuhuka skilled in the procedure who employed a specialized ear-piercing implement, the tu'a puaika. Passed down within individual families, tu'a puaika were usually carved from the bones of ancestors, although some are also made from bird bone or turtleshell. In nearly all surviving examples, the upper portion is adorned with a carved finial, which takes the form of a tiki image."