Friday, March 29, 2013

Jewelry Museum ~ Oaxaca, Mexico

My husband and I spent 5 weeks in Mexico last fall.  We rented a small house, in the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca, for 4 of those weeks.  I could talk for hours about our experiences there, but for today, I'd like to share our visit to the Belber Jimenez Museum. 

Belber Jimenez Museum

 This museum has an extensive collection of Mexican jewelry from pre-Colombian times through the early 20th century.  The museum is based on the jewelry and craft collection of an internationally known Oaxacan jeweler, Belbar Jimenez; who now resides in the United States.

Unfortunately for me, all of the signage was in Spanish.  My Spanish ability is pretty sketchy, but I will do my best to share the bits I understood.

The first pieces of jewelry I will share, were found in the nearby archaeological ruins of Monte Alban.  My husband and I visited this amazing site.   Its sheer size is almost unfathomable.  Archaeologists are still at work in Monte Alban and they continue to excavate temples and other ceremonial buildings.

Beautiful jewelry was discovered at Monte Alban and it is treasured both for its artistry, as well as its value as a cultural heritage.  (A bit of a disclaimer here:  All the jewelry was behind glass and the lighting was often quite dim.  Therefore picture quality is poorer than I wish it were.)

Monte Alban jewelry

The picture below is of Monte Alban reproduction jewelry, (from a different museum).  Monte Alban jewelry has such cultural value that not just anyone is authorized to reproduce it.  You have to get a government license to do so and only the very finest jewelers will qualify.

Here is a YouTube video showing the work of some jewelers creating Monte Alban reproductions.

Moving onward to the colonial period, the Spanish introduced filigree jewelry, which they, in turn, learned from  Byzantine goldsmiths' work.

There was also a nice collection of jewelry from the early 1900's through the 1920's.  Apparently there was quite a  renaissance in Mexican jewelry during that time.  I believe that the next two pieces are from the early 1900's, but I am not certain.

This necklace was created in the 1920's, but the motif is based on an ancient Zapotec fishing story.

I can't remember the date for this next necklace.  It looks to me like something from the 40's or 50's maybe.

There is one more picture that I wish I could share.  It is  jewelry that Frida Kahlo was wearing when she died - jewelry that was a gift from Diego Rivera.  However before I could take that picture, a museum employee told me that I wasn't allowed to take any pictures in the museum.  Luckily he did not make me erase the pictures I had taken so far, which is why I can share this jewelry with you today.  I hope you have enjoyed this little jewelry museum tour!

Linda Landig
Linda Landig Jewelry


  1. Such a fabulous post Linda. I think it is wonderful that you could share these pictures with us. Thanks so much. I love Mexican art, jewelry and everything else. You are so lucky to have spent a whole month there.

  2. wow! this is inspirational and cool all at the same time

  3. Oh I am so glad he didn't make you erase all these pictures! They are fantastic. And so wish you had gotten in that last one from Diego to Frida! I love this style of jewelry. It is gorgeous

  4. Oh my goodness - how wonderful are all of these pieces and your photos!? Thanks you so much for sharing and thanks to the museum dude who didn't make you erase them! LOL!! What a wonderful experience to get to see all of these - they are truly works of art and so beautiful.

  5. What a treat to see & learn about all of these beautiful pieces, Linda! I adore the Mexican filigree jewelry. It would have been wonderful to see the gifts of jewelry from Diego to Frida, but I did find a you-tube vodeo to tide me over! Thanks so much for sharing with us, Linda!!

  6. Oh how did I miss this !!! Fantastic, lovely, inspiring. I adore art/jewelry history.... So glad you got the pix you did!

  7. Me again - the lost wax video was cool. I did lost was cool! I did lost wax Sr year in college metal smithing. Its very exciting to do...


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