September 08, 2015
It's true, there is nothing inherently "Mayan" about the style of jewelry that most of us have come to know as the "Mayan" flare. More than likely those of us making or wearing the jewelry with this name are not of this culture, and the style itself (which as been simplified to anything with a large front flare) is not unique to the Mayan culture. In fact, we hold in our antiquities collection pieces with large flares or drastically larger front faces created by cultures on the other side of the world from Indonesia and Thailand.
(Silver cup style ear flares, Karen tribe, Thailand)
We at Onetribe are as guilty as anyone else of this appropriated naming. We are proud to have been a major catalyst in the resurgence of this style of large-faced ear flare, which for us was inspired by the large trumpet-shaped flower ear flares worn by the Maya culture. The artwork and engineering of Mesoamerican cultures has been a huge influence on me as an artisan working in natural materials, and I have nothing but pure intentions when I have created a piece of jewelry inspired by these beautiful peoples. However, I have come to understand that in taking the name of a culture for our own use, we are robbing them of their identity and the right to ownership of their legacy. As a result, Onetribe has ceased using the names of cultures in titling our own artwork. We have already removed them from product titles and are working on purging them from the SKU's in our database, which will take a little while to complete.
If a piece has been inspired by a specific culture or easily recognizable style of jewelry prominent within a culture, we certainly intend to continue conveying that through conversational tone in describing our artwork, but we will no longer create product names which directly involve the names of groups of people. In regard to the vast number of "Mayan" flared styles that we carry, we are replacing the title with "Trumpet" flare, a term often used in an anthropological context to refer to the face style and flare taper of many Mesoamerican ear flares.
This is a personal choice, and simply something that I feel is important to acknowledge. As someone who creates jewelry inspired by beautiful cultures from all around the world, the last thing I wish to do is disrespect someone or give the impression that I have anything but love and adoration for the beautiful craft work that makes each culture so unique and our world so diverse. It is an honor to know that I am helping to preserve disappearing methods of hand-work and craft and helping to evolve the art of body adornment. I only wish to work toward creating an environment that continues to be inspired by indigenous cultures while being respectful of their rights.