Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

The Secret Life of Vintage: Bolivian Jewelry

Buying and selling vintage takes me in some really interesting directions sometimes. Clothing and jewelry can be a window into places I might not have ever learned about otherwise.

For example, last week I met with a woman who had lived and worked in Bolivia in the 1960’s. She studied the economics of indigenous women there and, because she spent time in the markets, acquired some wonderful pieces. She had really fascinating stories to go along with them.

This is one of her items, an antique silver “tupu” used to pin hand woven blankets into shawls.

This lead me to research the indigenous women of the Andes, called “chollas”, who have a very distinct personal style:

Over many centuries, the chollas have been marginalized in their own country. But now many young native Bolivians-calling themselves chollitas- are embracing their indigenous style and culture:

Native Bolivian women have traditionally worn big, intricate dangling earrings. Here are some I purchased from the economist:

Here is a close-up of these fantastic 19th century silver ones, which are 6″ long. The round parts are Bolivian coins with dates from the late 1800’s. Sun and moon motifs are common elements in Andean culture:

In a quirk of fate, I happened to show these earrings to a customer the day after I got them. It turns out she has an interest in cholla culture and she instantly snapped them up, giving them a new life 120 years after they were made.

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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