Edith Albarran Duque, Cesar Montes Rosales
Medium of Work:
Traditional Purhepecha jewelry, indigenous to the Purhepecha ethnic group, comes from the Michoacan state of Mexico, and for generations has been treasured for its delicate beauty and distinctive designs. Purhepecha women and girls almost always have at least one pair of silver or gold traditional filigree earrings, proudly worn for social occasions. Traditionally, when a Purhepecha woman is engaged to be married, the parents of her fiancé present her with a silver necklace featuring white fish; at the time of the wedding she is presented with traditional Purhepecha wedding garments (a traditional blouse, skirt, apron, etc.) and the traditional Wedding Rosary, a unique elaborate silver necklace with accompanying earrings.
The materials used by master jewelers Edith Albarran Duque and Cesar Montes Rosales are sterling silver, with semi-precious stones often used as embellishments. The silver mainly comes from Mexico City, but sometimes the artists melt down old silver coins, then add pure silver to them to get sterling silver. Together, Duque and Rosales have a workshop called Kutzi, where they make dangling, shimmery earrings, ornate necklaces, and other dazzling accessories.
Purhepecha jewelry has its roots in pre-colonial times. Unfortunately, many masters of the artform passed away without training apprentices to carry on their work. For Duque and Rosales, it is crucial to preserve the ancient Purhepecha design techniques and motifs; they’ve even travelled to small Michoacan communities like the village of Tlacotepec to offer jewelry-making workshops to women in their community.