Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Chile before Chile

Mapuche silverwork

In the late 18th century, the silver jewellery industry was flourishing in the Araucanía Region, an incredible variety of styles and unique designs marking the high point of Mapuche wealth and power. At that time, Mapuches moved freely around a vast territory as far as the Argentine pampas, dominating the livestock and horse trade at cross-border trading posts. The silver coins they earned became a symbol of power and prestige, and the spouses of the lonkos (chiefs) began wearing them as ornaments.