The origin of filigree dates back to the third millennium BC, in Mesopotamia. The oldest pieces date back to 2500 BC. W and were discovered in the graves of Ur, in present-day Iraq. Other pieces, discovered in Syria, are from approximately 2100 a. W
It reached Europe via the trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea, where it became relatively popular in the Greek and Roman civilizations. The oldest discoveries of filigree jewelery were made in present-day Italy and are estimated to date back to the 16th century. XVIII a. W It was also during the Roman Empire that the word “filigree” itself originated: the oldest discoveries were made in present-day Italy, and date back to the 16th century. XVIII a. W
However, since the Middle East was a crossroads of cultures, filigree continued its journey and crossed borders into India and China. In the Far East, it was mainly used as a decorative element and not as jewellery. We find, for example, sculptures covered in filigree, teapots, plates or boxes.
Of course, the filigree of this very remote time was not the same as we know it today: the patterns were different, as well as the use. But the similarity of the techniques used leaves no room for doubt - we were able to identify these secular pieces as examples of filigree.
So what distinguishes filigree? Simple, the way different chains fines draw patterns and are soldered together to create a much larger piece. No other art of jewelery uses a similar smelting technique to join chains gold. Today - as thousands of years ago - the different chains that make up each piece are united only by heat, without resorting to any other material or alloy.
We can also say that there is no other goldsmithing technique in which so few metals are used to create such large and extraordinary shapes. In some filigree hearts, for example, half of the “surface” of the piece can be air!
Filigree in the Iberian Peninsula
The oldest pieces in filigree discovered in the Iberian Peninsula date back to 2000 - 2500 BC. W , but its origin is unclear. Possibly, these pieces belonged to merchants or navigators from the Middle East and were not manufactured here.
Only during the rule of the Romans, during the century. II a. W , mining began to exist in the Peninsula - out of curiosity, it was during this period that the mines of the Pia and Banja mountains, in Gondomar, began to be explored.
But only thousands of years later, in the century. VIII d. W , we managed to ensure with certainty that the filigree was being developed and produced in Portugal. It was with the arrival of Arab peoples that new patterns emerged and that, little by little, the filigree of the Peninsula began to differentiate itself from the filigree of other parts of the world.
While in neighboring Spain the tradition of filigree was lost, in Portugal it was refined. From the century. In the 17th century, Portuguese filigree already had its own imagery and molds that were very different from any other filigree.
Other iconic symbols of our filigree have a historical or not entirely clear origin. We are talking about:
Heart of Viana
Contrary to what one might think, the primary purpose ofCoração de Viana was not to be a symbol of love, but rather a symbol of dedication and worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Was it Queen D. Maria I who, grateful for the “blessing” of being granted a male child, had a heart made of gold.
It is almost unanimous that the earrings Rainha appeared in Portugal during the reign of Queen D. Maria I (1734 - 1816). The origin of the name seems to date back to the reign of D. Maria II (1819 - 1853), who wore a pair of these earrings on a visit to Viana do Castelo in 1852. After this visit, they became popular as a symbol of wealth and status and earned the name “earrings queen”. In other areas of Minho, it is still known as “the queen's fashion”, “of a noble woman” or “rich woman”. But what is really curious are the drawings of the earrings queen. It is said that they will be a symbol of female fertility, since there is a round part, with a smaller circle connected to the main piece in an apparently tenuous way: a symbol of the son's connection to the mother's womb, from which he will free himself. Adherents of this theory also refer that the lower part of the earring is an inverted triangle, a female symbol at the time.
As arrecadas began by being the earrings of the poorest population and which the more privileged classes began to imitate. At its origin were the Castrejas earrings, inspired by the crescent moon.
Necklaces from Beads
The necklaces from Beadsare as old as the goldsmith's art. Viana's Beads descend from the Greek Beads: they are hollow inside, which makes them light, and perfectly spherical. They are distinguished, however, by the Chain in filigree and by a small dot in the centre. They arose because of the difficulty in buying a whole necklace in filigree: the women would buy Bead to Bead until they managed to make a whole Chain. There was also the advantage of changing the Chain to the intended length.
Portuguese filigree today
Today, the manufacture of filigree in Portugal is mainly concentrated in the areas of Gondomar and Póvoa do Lanhoso. In Minho, filigree continues to be associated with a long tradition: the “Sunday costumes”. Minho women's costume is always complemented with various pieces of gold, including necklaces and earrings that pass from generation to generation.
Exclusively manual filigree
Unfortunately we were unable to guarantee the production of exclusively manual parts, there were no fillers throughout the country to handle the orders. But let's not deceive anyone, all parts that are exclusively manual will have a warning in their description.
We want exclusively hand-made Filigree to survive and we will make our full contribution to its continuation.
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