This brooch is made of silver in a stylized flower form with a nod to Pre-Columbian design. I found the brooch in a small jeweller in the Northamptonshire market town of Oundle. Usually when I purchase a brooch the seller is keen to tell me all about it, in some cases at extreme length, but in this instance the shop assistant was completely indifferent. She didn’t care less where the brooch might have come from, all she was interested in was telling me it was ‘silver’. Yes I like to know what a brooch is made of but I’m far more interested in its history and its story. There were some interesting marks on the back of the brooch, so when I came home I set too and did some investigation. The first thing was to try and establish where the brooch was made. Eventually we (I often enlist my long-suffering husband) deciphered the mark as ‘Peru’. There is another mark which, as yet, we have been unable to identify.
In ancient Peruvian cultures precious metals had a special status. Silver and gold were symbols of power and prestige and worn exclusively by the elite, indicating their social status and political authority in life. In death these precious objects were placed in the tombs of the dead as offerings. During the 13th to 15th centuries the Lords of the Chimú Kingdom who ruled the northern reaches of the Peruvian coast extensively mined silver. Between 1600 and 1800 3 million ounces of silver were mined per year.
In Peruvian culture silver is associated with the mysterious and feminine powers of the moon. The Incas were enthralled by its soft gleam and referred to it as ‘the tears of the moon’.
Today, Peru is the leading silver producer in the world, with 18% of the worldwide production followed by Mexico, China, Australia and Bolivia.
For Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) fans the small hamlet of Cotterstock just north of Oundle, was the backdrop for the 2012 gothic supernatural horror film ‘The Woman in Black’. Cotterstock was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Codestoche, from the Old English “corther-stoc” meaning dairy farm.