Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Aymara silversmithing

Metalworking has been practiced in the Andean Altiplano for thousands of years, especially in the centuries immediately following the Spanish conquest, when Bolivia’s Potosí Mine produced vast quantities of silver. The items in this display show how this ancient technology was combined with Old World Baroque forms. Today, Aymara women engage in friendly rivalry at festivals, wearing elaborate silver jewellery on eye-catching embroidered cloaks reminiscent of Spanish Baroque styles.

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Glass beaded necklace with a silver crucifix. Aymara. MCHAP, 2435.

Silver and glass beaded earrings. Aymara. MCHAP,2134.

Silver pins. Aymara. MCHAP 2009.

Staffs of command. Aymara. MCHAP,1810.

Bird-shaped chest ornament. Aymara MCHAP, 1858.

Aymara woman. Illustration, José Pérez de Arce.