What would a stay in Bogotá be without a visit to the famous “Museo de Oro”, the gold museum?
It’s been years since I visited the Bogotá Gold Museum and in May, during my last stay in Colombia, I really wanted to go to the City Center to visit the museum again. It is definitely a must-have for a goldsmith! But for every other tourist too.
The museum was unrecognizable, it has beeb completely renovated a few years ago. Many beautiful pieces have been added. Above all, however, the didactic preparation has been completely renewed.
I was equally pleased and amazed by a sentence that I came across right at the beginning of the exhibition:
“Miners were respected specialists who were held in high esteem because they knew the secrets of the earth and how how to extract metals from it. Goldsmiths also held a dual status, since they combined technical and supernatural knowledge in their work: many of them were religious and political leaders”.
(Quote display board Gold Museum, Bogotá)
I had never looked at my job from this point of view. Of course, in various museums, one becomes aware that this craft has a very long history and tradition and that many techniques that are still used today have not changed at all for thousands of years. In the course of the exhibition, the importance of gold in Colombia’s pre-Hispanic period becomes even clearer: it is seen in direct connection with the gods, and the profession of a goldsmith was often regarded as an almost divine activity because it required special knowledge that is required in order to be able to process this “divine material” gold.
I also found it particularly fascinating that the design of the pre-Columbian pieces of jewelry is so timeless and classically beautiful. You could take almost any of these pieces of jewelry out of the showcase, put it around your neck and go to an evening event with it.
This proves once again that the simplest design is often the most beautiful.
Inspired, happy and raised heads I went out of the museum that day and even bought a few earrings in the lovingly curated museum shop – which you normally do too rarely being a goldsmith.
Brief introduction to the history of the Gold Museum
The Gold Museum was founded in 1939 by the Colombian state bank to preserve the cultural heritage of the pre-Hispanic period and make it accessible to the public. The museum has the world’s largest and most unique collection of pre-Columbian gold objects. (Approximately 55,000 artifacts — 35,000 of which are gold — are being exposed.) Because of its color and luster, gold was considered a symbol of sunlight and eternity. It was regarded as a form of representation for the divine origin of being and should give the wearer divine powers and above all health, luck and energy. The surfaces of gold jewelry were often matted. This should prevent the force emanating from the precious metal from being reflected and thus being lost for the wearer.
Rania Elkallais an Egyptian industrial designer who designs and produces wonderful home accessories and small furniture. Not only the design of their products is special, but also the material from which Rania makes these accessories. I got to know Rania a few years ago when she came to Berlin with the intention of finding a university that would support her idea of producing a biodegradable material from nut and egg shells as part of her master’s thesis. That sounded adventurous! I admired her courage and wished her good luck. Up to now she won several awards for her material, which does not contain any chemicals and is 100% biodegradable – including the Italian “A Design Award” 2016.
We have become friends over the years.From time to time we meet here in Berlin when Rania, who now lives in Cairo again, comes to Germany. Each time I meet her I am fascinated by her energy and charisma, which is absolutely convincing and inspires everybody for her project. Rania has now founded her own company: Shell Homage, with which she sells her products.
Last year she asked me to design a few pieces of jewelry to see if the material could be used in jewelry. The jewelry pieces which were born out of this cooperation are very beautiful. The material can be used easily for making jewelry. It can be worked with simple goldsmith tools and brought into shape. In addition it has a look reminiscent of stone, so that e.g. large earrings can be made that are wonderfully light. Only at a second glance you can see that the “stones” are not real. Rania gives her material a wide variety of colors by adding natural color pigments to the still liquid mass. The surface of this material is rough and uneven, each pressed plate is absolutely unique.
Rania has created a very special material that is trend-setting. In combination with her light and very modern designs, she creates very special accessories that are practical, stylish and last but not least environmentally friendly.
Follow the links to find out more about Rania Elkalla and her company “Shell Homage”:
Yesterday I took pictures of Melissa for the first time. I am so pleased with the result of these beautiful photos and I am thrilled how good my jewelry looks on her. Every single piece looks just amazing.
This picture was painted by my daughter almost twenty years ago, shortly after we first saw the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos”, the Mexican version of All Saints / All Souls. Since then, the picture is on my shelf and from time to time I look at it intensively. I’m always amazed how exactly she captured this Mexican tradition. Two indigenous women are obviously on their way to the cemetery to commemorate the deceased. They are accompanied by numerous children, the little ones are tied behind their backs. In the background there is a pyramid on the left side and a church on the right side, Mexico lives still in this tension between pre – hispanic tradition and the Christian heritage of the conquerors. In addition, she painted two oversized corncobs, the staple food of the Mexicans in general: without Tortilla no meal is conceivable. Above all stands the skull, reminding us that death is part of our lives. P>
I am glad that this picture has survived all our moves and is still with me today.
My girlfriend Claudia works as a psychiatrist near Heidelberg. When I asked her to put on her favorite piece of jewelry in order to take a picture of her, she did not hesitate for a long time. She took her mother’s bracelet out of a drawer: a beautiful wide silver bracelet made by a goldsmith. It has been elaborated with an old goldsmith technique, where every element has been chiseled to give it three dimensionality. It consists of several identical elements, which are connected to each other by eyelets to guarantee the mobility of the bracelet. With this bracelet Claudia’s father proposed marriage to his future wife, so it is an extraordinary engagement jewelry piece.
Unfortunately, Claudia lost her mother very early when she was still a teenager. So the bracelet is a very important memento that remained from her mother and connects her with her while wearing it.