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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

Mapuche (Chile-Argentina)

Jewellery set 1996

RCIN 51324

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The extensive silversmithing tradition of the Mapuche people of southern and central Chile began in the eighteenth century, when Spanish colonists introduced silver coins which they traded for Mapuche cattle. The Mapuche melted these coins down and converted them into jewellery, combining local knowledge of metal sheetwork with small-scale smelting techniques learnt from the Spanish. The ornaments became an important symbol of wealth and status and were used both as jewellery for women and adornments for horses. The most widespread forms were earrings (chaway), necklaces (trarilonco), breast ornaments (trapelakucha) and pins (punzon), all of which can be seen here.

The set was presented to Queen Elizabeth II by President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of Chile during a luncheon at Buckingham Palace, 15 October 1996.