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Mapuche pectoral (síquel)

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Dated: 1800-1900

Cultural Context: Mapuche style.

Origin: Chile (South America)

Medium: Silver

Technique: Punched, Casting, Chiselled, Carved, Incised

Dimensions: Length = 19.8 cm; Width = 8 cm; Maximum thickness = 0.7 cm

Inventory No. MAM 12817

Pectoral decoration consisting of two plates linked by three chains. The upper plate is rectangular in shape with a crenelated upper edge. It has an incised zoomorphic decoration and three perforations. From the lower rim hang two discs linked by rings and three chains of rectangular, hollow plates connected by links with serrated sides. The lower plate is oval with incised decoration. Its lower edge is rounded and six anthropomorphic figures hang from it.

This piece of jewellery is a pectoral ornament that forms part of the rich ornamental costume of Mapuche women. Specifically, it is a three-stranded siquel. The term siquel comes from the word chicull, meaning “tickle”. This type appeared at the end of the 19th century and quickly replaced the previous models. Unlike other pectorals, which were worn hanging from a silver necklace (traripel) or pin (tupu), this type usually had a needle and link clasp on the back. Characteristic of this ornament is the decoration of two birds facing each other on the upper plate. The Mapuche community is currently located in different regions of both Chile and Argentina.