|In 1775 Pierre Pouchot observed that, "when a young man has made war, he cuts away the hair from around his ear and attaches a piece of lead to it in such a way that the weight stretches the cartilage, thus forming an opening in which a rolled gaitor could be placed. They wind around it a brass wire and in the middle they place tufts of feathers or colored hair. These ears come down to their shoulders and flap when they walk. When they travel through the forest they put a strap around their foreheads to hold in their ears so they are not torn in the bush."
There were two main types of trade silver earrings worn by natives, the earwheel and the ear bob.
Prior to European contact, native men would slit their ears and stretch the skin to be able to insert polished bone and wood. When the earwheel was first introduced, it was worn in the same manner of the bone and wood, by inserting it into the slit in the ear. However, that custom deteriorated, and the earwheel was hung on a wire and suspended from the ear.
The ear bob, also known as the ball and cone earring, was the most popular form of earring during the fur trade, and possibly the most popular item of the fur trade. The ear bob was made of a hollow two-part soldered ball suspended on a wire that pierced the ear, with a cone suspended underneath. It was not uncommon to see a Native American with ten or more ear bobs in each ear.
The earwheel and ball and cone earring were not only worn in the ear. Earwheels were often hung with ribbons from the hair or headscarves, and ear bobs were worn as a pendant or type of bell in multiples, anywhere the wearer saw fit.
|This woman has ball and cone earrings filling each ear, as well as a large collection of brooches displayed on her shirt.|