Silverwork is one of the best known and most traditional crafts associated with the Mapuche people. As it is known today, the development of metal work in this culture dates back to the 15th century. According to archaeological and historical evidence as well as chronicles that mention weapons and adornments made of copper, silver and gold, the Mapuche already knew the techniques of casting and lamination by hot and cold percussion before the arrival of the Spanish. However, it was not until the colonial period (15th-18th centuries) that silver became one of the preferred materials used by Mapuche artisans and silversmiths. During the 18th and 19th centuries, production was intensified and diversified as it included the women’s trousseau, true work of art itself, consisting of earrings (chaway, chaguai or chawai, usually of a trapezoidal shape and very large in size), headbands (trarilongko, trarilonco, from which hang coins or small round plates), bracelets, hanging necklaces (kilkai), pectoral pendants (such as the sükill, sequil, sikil, also known as maimantu; the sükill akucha, sequil acucha, a three chain brooch; and the trapelakucha, trapelacucha, which ends in the shape of a cross), clothes pins (the tupu and the katawe), rings (iwelkuk, ihuelcuc), brooches with spherical heads, bead collars (llankatu, llancatu) and neck sashes (traripel, made of silver and wool). Likewise, silversmiths also manufactured riding gear (spurs, stirrups), fittings (reins, headstalls), male belts and ceremonial staffs.
Picture 01. Sükill (pectoral pendant) 01.
Picture 02. Sükill 02.
Picture 03. Sükill 03.
Picture 04. Traripel (neck sash) 01.
Picture 05. Traripel (llankatu) 02.
Picture 06. Chaway (earrings).
Picture 07. Trarilongko (headband).
Picture 08. Trapelakucha (pectoral pendant).
Picture 09. Tupu (clothes pin).
Picture 10. Mapuche silverwork.
Picture 11. Detail of trapelakucha (pectoral pendant).