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Filigree (also less commonly spelled filagree, and formerly written filigrann or filigrene)[ citation needed ] is a form of intricate metalwork used in jewellery and other small forms of metalwork.
In jewellery, it is usually of gold and silver, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together or to the surface of an object of the same metal and arranged in artistic motifs. It often suggests lace and remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork. It was popular as well in Italian, French and Portuguese metalwork from 1660 to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajoure jewellery work, the ajoure technique consisting of drilling holes in objects made of sheet metal.
The English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen which derives from Latin "filum" meaning thread and "granum" grain, in the sense of small bead. The Latin words gave filigrana in Italian which itself became filigrane in 17th-century French.
Though filigree has become a special branch of jewellery in modern times, it was historically part of the ordinary work of the jeweller. Indeed, all the jewellery of the Etruscans and Greeks (other than that intended for the grave, and therefore of an unsubstantial character) was made by soldering together and so building up the gold rather than by chiselling or engraving the material.
Archaeological finds in ancient Mesopotamia indicate that filigree was incorporated into jewellery since 3,000 BC. Specific to the city of Midyat in Mardin Province in upper Mesopotamia, a form of filigree using silver and gold wires, known as "telkari", was developed in the 15th Century. To this day, expert craftsmen in this region continue to produce fine pieces of telkari.
The Egyptian jewellers employed wire, both to lay down on a background and to plait or otherwise arranged jour. But, with the exception of chains, it cannot be said that filigree work was much practiced by them. Their strength lay rather in their cloisonné work and their molded ornaments. Many examples, however, remain of round plaited gold chains of fine wire, such as those that are still made by the filigree workers of India, and known as trichinopoly chains. From some of these are hung smaller chains of finer wire with minute fishes and other pendants fastened to them.
In ornaments derived from Phoenician sites, such as Cyprus and Sardinia, patterns of gold wire are laid down with great delicacy on a gold ground, but the art was advanced to its highest perfection in the Greek and Etruscan filigree of the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC. A number of earrings and other personal ornaments found in central Italy are preserved in the Louvre and in the British Museum. Almost all of them are made of filigree work. Some earrings are in the form of flowers of geometric design, bordered by one or more rims each made up of minute volutes of gold wire, and this kind of ornament is varied by slight differences in the way of disposing the number or arrangement of the volutes. But the feathers and petals of modern Italian filigree are not seen in these ancient designs. Instances occur, but only rarely, in which filigree devices in wire are self-supporting and not applied to metal plates.
The museum of the Hermitage at Saint Petersburg contains a large collection of Scythian jewellery from the tombs of the Crimea. Many bracelets and necklaces in that collection are made of twisted wire, some in as many as seven rows of plaiting, with clasps in the shape of heads of animals of beaten work. Others are strings of large beads of gold, decorated with volutes, knots and other patterns of wire soldered over the surfaces.In the British Museum a sceptre, probably that of a Greek priestess, is covered with plaited and netted gold wipe, finished with a sort of Corinthian capital and a boss of green glass.
It is probable that in India, Iran (in Zanjan, this handicraft is called malileh) and various parts of central Asia filigree has been worked from the most remote period without any change in the designs. Whether the Asiatic jewellers were influenced by the Greeks who settled on that continent, or merely trained under traditions held in common with them, it is certain that the Indian filigree workers retain the same patterns as those of the ancient Greeks and work them in the same way, down to the present day. Wandering workmen are given so much gold, coined or rough, which is weighed, heated in a pan of charcoal, beaten into wire, and then worked in the courtyard or verandah of the employer's house according to the designs of the artist, who weighs the complete work on restoring it and is paid at a specified rate for his labour. Very fine grains or beads and spines of gold, scarcely thicker than coarse hair, projecting from plates of gold are methods of ornamentation still used.
Cuttack, of the eastern Indian state Odisha, features traditional filigree work Known as tarakasi in the Odia language, most filigree work revolves around images of deities, though due to lack of patronage and modern design ideas, it is a dying art. Also noted is silver filigree of Karimnagar in Telangana state.
Passing to later times, there are in many collections of medieval jewel work reliquaries, covers for Gospel books, etc., made either in Constantinople from the 6th to the 12th centuries, or in monasteries in Europe, in which studied and imitated Byzantine goldsmiths' work. These objects, besides being enriched with precious stones, polished, but not cut into facets, and with enamels, are often decorated with filigree. Large surfaces of gold are sometimes covered with scrolls of filigree soldered on, and corner pieces of the borders of book covers, or the panels of reliquaries, are frequently made up of complicated pieces of plaited work alternating with spaces encrusted with enamel. Byzantine filigree work occasionally has small stones set amongst the curves or knots. Examples of such decoration can be seen in the Victoria and Albert, and British Museums. Examples include the Cross of Lothair in Aachen.
In the north of Europe, the Saxons, Britons and Celts were from an early period skillful in several kinds of goldsmiths' work. Admirable examples of filigree patterns laid down in wire on gold, from Anglo-Saxon tombs, may be seen in the British Museum, notably a brooch from Dover, and a sword-hilt from Cumberland. The Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver (estimated 700 CE) discovered in a field in Staffordshire, England, on 5 July 2009 contains numerous examples of very fine filigree described by archaeologist Kevin Leahy as "incredible".
Irish filigree work of the Insular period is more thoughtful in design and more extremely varied in pattern. The Royal Irish Academy in Dublin contains a number of reliquaries and personal jewels, of which filigree is the general and most remarkable ornament. The Tara brooch has been copied and imitated, and the shape and decoration of it are well known. Instead of fine curls or volutes of gold thread, the Irish filigree is varied by numerous designs by which one thread can be traced through curious knots and complications, which, disposed over large surfaces, balance one another, but always with special varieties and arrangements difficult to trace with the eye. The long thread appears and disappears without breach of continuity, the two ends generally worked into the head and the tail of a serpent or a monster.
The reliquary containing the "Bell of Saint Patrick" is covered with knotted work in many varieties. A two-handled chalice, called the "Ardagh Chalice" found near Limerick in 1868, is ornamented with work of this kind of extraordinary fineness. Twelve plaques on a band round the body of the vase, plaques on each handle and round the foot of the vase have a series of different designs of characteristic patterns, in fine filigree wire work wrought on the front of the repoussé ground.
Much of the medieval jewel work all over Europe down to the 15th century, on reliquaries, crosses, croziers, and other ecclesiastical goldsmiths' work, is set off with bosses and borders of filigree. Filigree work in silver was practised by the Moors of Spain during the Middle Ages with great skill, and was introduced by them and established all over the Iberian Peninsula, hence it was carried to the Spanish colonies in America.
The manufacture spread over the Balearic Islands, and among the populations that border the Mediterranean. It is still made all over Italy, and in Portugal, Malta, North Macedonia, Albania, the Ionian Islands and many other parts of Greece. That of the Greeks is sometimes on a large scale, with several thicknesses of wires alternating with larger and smaller bosses and beads, sometimes set with turquoises, and mounted on convex plates, making rich ornamental headpieces, belts, and breast ornaments. Filigree silver buttons of wire-work and small bosses are worn by the peasants in most of the countries that produce this kind of jewellery.
Silver filigree brooches and buttons are also made in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Little chains and pendants are added to much of this northern work.
The oldest filigree pieces discovered in the Iberian Peninsula date back to 2000–2500 BC, but its origin is not clear. centuries became famous for their extraordinary complexity. Gold and silver filigree jewellery of delicate and artistic design is still made in considerable quantities throughout the country, particularly filigree hearts, which are iconic symbols of Portuguese jewellery-making.These pieces possibly belonged to merchants and navigators originally from the Middle East and are not thought to have been produced in the region at that time. Filigree began to be produced in Portugal in the 8th century with the arrival of Arab migrants, who brought new patterns with them. With time, the peninsula began to produce different filigree patterns, but while in Spain the filigree jewellery-making tradition became less relevant, in Portugal it was perfected. After the 18th century, Portuguese Filigree already had its own distinctive imagery, motifs and shapes. Filigree from the 17th and 18th
Filigree work was brought to Great Britain from Abyssinia after the Battle of Magdala: armguards, slippers, and cups, some of which are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. They are made of thin plates of silver, over which the wirework is soldered. The filigree is subdivided by narrow borders of simple pattern, and the intervening spaces are made up of many patterns, some with grains set at intervals.
The art may be said to consist in curling, twisting and plaiting fine pliable threads of metal, and uniting them at their points of contact with each other, and with the ground, by means of flux such as borax, by the help of the blowpipe. When granulated motifs are desired, small beads are made traditionally by using precious metal wire or fine sheet to start with, which is cut up in small pieces mixed with flux and placed in the small holes of a pitted block of charcoal (or any other suitable refractory material) and are then melted with a blowpipe (or today with a blowtorch), after which the bits of wire curl up and take a natural spherical like shape to end up in minuscule grains which slightly differ one from the other.Small grains or beads of the same metals are often set in the eyes of volutes, on the junctions, or at intervals at which they will set off the wirework effectively. The more delicate work is generally protected by framework of stouter wire.
Brooches, crosses, earrings, buttonsand other personal ornaments of modern filigree are generally surrounded and subdivided by bands of square or flat metal, giving consistency to the filling up, which would not otherwise keep its proper shape.
"Filigree" has been used metaphorically as a term for intricate ornamental designs in a number of other contexts, including larger-scale metalwork such as wrought iron or cast iron pieces such as railings and balustrades. In Polish, the term "filigranowy" or "filigranowa" (lit. "filigree") is used to describe people with a petite body.
Jewellery or jewelry consists of decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal such as gold used in different carats from 21, 18, 12, 9 or even lower, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used.
A necklace is an article of jewellery that is worn around the neck. Necklaces may have been one of the earliest types of adornment worn by humans. They often serve ceremonial, religious, magical, or funerary purposes and are also used as symbols of wealth and status, given that they are commonly made of precious metals and stones.
A brooch is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments, often to fasten them together. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold or some other material. Brooches are frequently decorated with enamel or with gemstones and may be solely for ornament or serve a practical function as a clothes fastener. The earliest known brooches are from the Bronze Age. As fashions in brooches changed rather quickly, they are important chronological indicators. Many of the ancient European brooches found in archaeology are usually referred to by the Latin term fibula.
Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects with colored material held in place or separated by metal strips or wire, normally of gold. In recent centuries, vitreous enamel has been used, but inlays of cut gemstones, glass and other materials were also used during older periods; indeed cloisonné enamel very probably began as an easier imitation of cloisonné work using gems. The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné. The decoration is formed by first adding compartments to the metal object by soldering or affixing silver or gold as wires or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be fired in a kiln. If gemstones or colored glass are used, the pieces need to be cut or ground into the shape of each cloison.
The Tara Brooch is a Celtic brooch of the pseudo-penannular type, made in 710 to 750 AD. It was found in Ireland in 1850, but, despite its name, not at Tara but likely near Bettystown on the coast of County Meath. The name by which the brooch became known was attached to it by the jeweller who purchased it, as a marketing ploy for the copies they made. The brooch was exhibited internationally and was one of the artifacts that fuelled the Celtic Revival in the mid-19th century. It is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
Niello is a black mixture, usually of sulphur, copper, silver, and lead, used as an inlay on engraved or etched metal, especially silver. It is added as a powder or paste, then fired until it melts or at least softens, and flows or is pushed into the engraved lines in the metal. It hardens and blackens when cool, and the niello on the flat surface is polished off to show the filled lines in black, contrasting with the polished metal around it. It may also be used with other metalworking techniques to cover larger areas, as seen in the sky in the diptych illustrated here. The metal where niello is to be placed is often roughened to provide a key. In many cases, especially in objects that have been buried underground, where the niello is now lost, the roughened surface indicates that it was once there.
Anglo-Saxon art covers art produced within the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, beginning with the Migration period style that Germanic tribes brought with them from the continent in the 5th century, and ending in 1066 with the Norman Conquest of a unified Kingdom of England whose sophisticated art was influential in much of northern Europe. The two periods of outstanding achievement were the 7th and 8th centuries, with the metalwork and jewellery from Sutton Hoo and a series of magnificent illuminated manuscripts, and the final period after about 950, when there was a revival of English culture after the end of the Viking invasions. By the time of the Conquest the move to the Romanesque style is nearly complete. The important artistic centres, in so far as these can be established, were concentrated in the extremities of England, in Northumbria, especially in the early period, and Wessex and Kent near the south coast.
Champlevé is an enamelling technique in the decorative arts, or an object made by that process, in which troughs or cells are carved, etched, die struck, or cast into the surface of a metal object, and filled with vitreous enamel. The piece is then fired until the enamel fuses, and when cooled the surface of the object is polished. The uncarved portions of the original surface remain visible as a frame for the enamel designs; typically they are gilded in medieval work. The name comes from the French for "raised field", "field" meaning background, though the technique in practice lowers the area to be enamelled rather than raising the rest of the surface.
Jewellery as an art form originated as an expression of human culture. Body ornamentation, one purpose of jewellery, has been known since at least the Stone Age. The history of jewellery in Ukraine reflects the influence of many cultures and peoples who have occupied the territory in the past and present.
This article refers to the jewelry of the Etruscan civilization and its differences in various eras.
Tarakasi is a type of silver filigree work from Cuttack, a city in Odisha in the eastern part of India.
John Donald is a British jeweller - designer whose work is strongly identified in the 1960s and 1970s in London. Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother purchased works by John Donald in the 1960s, having been introduced to him by Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon.
The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, and its closely related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners, often rather large; penannular means formed as an incomplete ring. They are especially associated with the beginning of the Early Medieval period in the British Isles, although they are found in other times and places—for example, forming part of traditional female dress in areas in modern North Africa.
The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking and casting. Major stylistic phases include barbarian, Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian, Viking, and the Late Middle Ages, when Western European styles became relatively similar.
Art in Medieval Scotland includes all forms of artistic production within the modern borders of Scotland, between the fifth century and the adoption of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. In the early Middle Ages, there were distinct material cultures evident in the different federations and kingdoms within what is now Scotland. Pictish art was the only uniquely Scottish Medieval style; it can be seen in the extensive survival of carved stones, particularly in the north and east of the country, which hold a variety of recurring images and patterns. It can also be seen in elaborate metal work that largely survives in buried hoards. Irish-Scots art from the kingdom of Dál Riata suggests that it was one of the places, as a crossroads between cultures, where the Insular style developed.
Traditional metal working in Mexico dates from the Mesoamerican period with metals such as gold, silver and copper. Other metals were mined and worked starting in the colonial period. The working of gold and silver, especially for jewelry, initially declined after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. However, during the colonial period, the working of metals rose again and took on much of the character traditional goods still have. Today, important metal products include those from silver, gold, copper, iron, tin and more made into jewelry, household objects, furniture, pots, decorative objects, toys and more. Important metal working centers include Taxco for silver, Santa Clara del Cobre for copper, Celaya for tin and Zacatecas for wrought iron.
The Londesborough Brooch is a Celtic pseudo-penannular brooch from Ireland. Dating from the early medieval period, it is a particularly elaborate example of a dress fastener that was produced during Ireland's artistic golden age, when objects such as the Tara Brooch and Ardagh Chalice were produced. Since 1888, it has been part of the British Museum's collection.
Trewhiddle style is a distinctive style in Anglo-Saxon art that takes its name from the Trewhiddle Hoard, discovered in Trewhiddle, Cornwall in 1770. The most outstanding metalwork produced in ninth century England was decorated in the animated, complex style. Trewhiddle ornamentation includes the use of silver, niello inlay, and zoomorphic, plant and geometric designs, often interlaced and intricately carved into small panels. Famous examples are: the Pentney Hoard, The Abingdon Sword, the Fuller Brooch, and the Strickland Brooch.
Yemenite silversmithing refers to the work of Jewish silversmiths from Yemen. They were highly acclaimed craftsmen who dominated craft production in precious metals in the southern Arabian peninsula from the 18th through the mid-20th century, a period and region during which Muslims did not engage in this work. These Yemenite silversmiths were noted for their use of fine granulation and filigree, producing such ornaments as women's bracelets, necklaces, finials, etc.
Scottish jewellery is jewellery created in Scotland or in a style associated with Scotland, which today often takes the form of the Celtic style. It is often characterised by being inspired by nature, Scandinavian mythology, and Celtic knot patterns. Jewellery has a history in Scotland dating back to at least the Iron Age.
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