When Francisco Pizarro and his small army arrived in Peru in 1532, to their delight they found that gold and silver were abundant. American Indians had a long tradition of metalworking techniques, including filigree, casting, and hammering. Silversmiths from Spain began to immigrate to the Americas shortly after the conquest and introduced European forms and styles. Through time the synthesis of New and Old World styles became integrated, culminating in the lush excesses of colonial Baroque and Rococo metalwork.
Filigree, or metal lace, as it was aptly called, is the technique of fashioning objects from thin metal wire. An ancient technique in both Europe and the Americas, it continued to be used throughout the Spanish colonial era. This image of a deer was used as a censer. Incense, such as copal, could be lighted and placed inside the vessel where the smoke would escape through the wire framework to perfume a room.
--Donna Pierce, 2015