Re­viv­ing the art of the gold tam­bourine


Keep­ing the tra­di­tion of hand­crafted her­itage jewelry

Long be­fore Mag­el­lan and the Span­ish con­quis­ta­dors set foot on Philip­pine soil, our pre­colo­nial an­ces­tors were al­ready liv­ing in style. Com­mu­ni­ties had al­ready mas­tered their own art of ac­ces­soriz­ing with in­tri­cate golden threads and fil­i­gree.

“When the Span­ish came and saw how well Filipinos made fil­i­gree jewelry, they thought about us­ing this to spread Catholi­cism,” Amami co-founder Danielle Tan ex­plains.

The epony­mous Amami bead (short for “Ama Namin”) was a style of bead­work ded­i­cated to the “Our Fa­ther” prayer’s place in the highly revered rosary. It was com­mon then to wear tam­bourine pen­dants around one’s neck—most en­cased relics or images—and were said to bring bless­ings from the saints.

To­day, knowl­edge of the craft is slowly dy­ing. But Amami’s founders hope to keep the torch lit for as long as they can, col­lab­o­rat­ing with lo­cal gold­smiths in Ilo­cos. A pas­sion project of Chris­tine Tiu and Tan, the for-women-by­women brand links a com­mu­nity’s his­tory with mod­ern sen­ti­ments.

The com­mu­nity of ar­ti­sans gains in­spi­ra­tion from their sur­round­ings— the rosi­tas are glob­ules of gold that form a flo­ral mo­tif; there’s the kal­abasa bead and also the parug-parug, which looks like a na­tive fruit of the same name. These el­e­ments are in­cor­po­rated in all of their pieces in­clud­ing the dec­o­ra­tive comb

peineta (above). Though the pieces, which are made of sil­ver dipped in 24-karat gold and are crafted with in­no­va­tive and mod­ern­ized de­sign, they still echo the rich­ness of our her­itage jewelry.

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