MOMPOX, Colombia – The technique employed by the Spanish goldsmiths of the Baroque lives on in Mompox, a quaint Colombian town in the Caribbean, where a school of craftsmanship produces world-renowned gold and silver filigree works of art.
The craft has been passed on from generation to generation and is now part of the curriculum at Mompox’s School-Workshop Foundation, which specializes in an assortment of traditional trades, such as goldsmithery, pottery, cooking and, particularly, goldsmithery.
“There are currently 14 students, who learn the craft for a year,” instructor Josimar Pedrozo told EFE. “The idea is for them to be able to master the filigree technique.”
Filigree work is intimately tied to the history of Mompox, a UNESCO World Heritage site that served as the main port connecting the Magdalena River with the Atlantic coast and the rest of the country during colonial times.
The town’s narrow streets are lined with colonial mansions – many of which were turned into hotels – and small workshops, where artisans toil to produce delicate gold and silver strands for tourists to see.
“Mompox’s Golden Age was during the 18th century,” the academic coordinator of the school, Jimmy Alvarado, said, adding that this picturesque little town was once “Nueva Granada’s third city due to its privileged position as an inland harbor.”
The renowned Sevillian School of Goldsmithery had its heyday between the 13th and 18th centuries, a period during which the Spanish artisans brought the exquisite trade to the Americas.
Mompox welcomes thousands of visitors from Colombia and abroad every year, and the refined jewelry its artisans produce gains more and more notoriety every year.