Lehna Kitzel

Formal Analysis Essay: Nose Ornament, Turbaned Head (excerpt)

Nose Ornament, Turbaned Head
Moche (Loma Negra)
H. 5 1/8 x W. 7 1/2 x D. 1/4 in. (13 x 19.1 x 0.6 cm)
Gold (partially silvered), silver
390–450 C.E.
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access Policy

“With its shallow eyes and grin, the face imparts a feeling anywhere from joyous to sinister. The sharply pointed nose contributes the sense of mirth, and, being the most prominent and finely crafted characteristic of the piece, references its overall role as a nose ornament. The head covering with arching pieces, large earrings, and a groomed beard seems to embody a status that would likely have been conferred to the wearer. The piece is highly stylized, so that while it convincingly portrays a face in a headdress it also follows a simplistic, geometric pattern.

The form follows an almost perfect symmetry that would have framed the face around the nose. The nose ornament is almost entirely intact, although where small dangling disks would have traced the arch and band of the headdress and the circular earrings only few remain. The disk would have generated movement when worn, increasing the impressive effect of the nose ornament. The piece includes smaller geometric details such as curved divots delineating the protruding pieces of the headdress and sections of beard. The sheer size of the nose piercing would have given an imposing and powerful air to the wearer.”