Filigree is an ancient technique, known since classical antiquity. It acquired great expression in the traditional Portuguese jewelery, and is present both in the most luxurious pieces, as well as on the chest of the most humble miners of Minho.
The particularity of the Portuguese filigree is exactly its most popular and humble side.
Throughout the country, but especially in the North, in the Minho region, they arrive from the middle of eight hundred regular gold shipments, sent to families by relatives emigrated in Brazil. In a context where property is low and resources are scarce for large families, married girls pay special attention to their dowry and appearance.
The Mordomas parade is accompanied every year by thousands of people who wait for hours to enjoy the typical gold that Mordomas carry on their breasts.
Minho jewelery is noteworthy. The gold pieces were a true marker of wealth and socioeconomic status, and the only asset that never lost value. Each piece of jewelery is typified, and has a highly symbolic value and uses: there was an order in the acquisition and use of each piece, marking the stages of the woman's life and her status.
These rules are mainly concerned with earrings (and earrings), cords (necklaces), pendants and brooches.
The pieces are usually hollow, made from a hollow gold plate beaten to a bulky shape, or in filigree. This technique involves creating a fine gold thread that the goldsmith twists and coils in delicate spirals to form very complex motifs. The wire can then be applied over an existing jewel, or form a new piece, full of baroque details. The filigree pieces can be decorated with small golden balls, pearls, enamels or semi-precious stones - turquoise, coral and jet.
The most iconic of these pieces is, without a doubt, the heart, said of Viana. But this is for another story ...
To learn more about the filigree, visit the websites of the Museu do Ouro de Travassos and the Museu de Ourivesaria Tradicional in Viana do Castelo.
And to see and believe, watch the creation of a reliquary at Oficina Manuel Armando Rodrigues Fernandes e Filhos, Lda, in Sobradelo da Goma, Póvoa do Lanhoso.