Pauyet Project: Two DECADES

Pauyet Project: Two DECADES

Visual Arts

Yohany Aguilera Jiménez, Especialista de Imagen y Desarrollo, Filial Ciego de Ávila

The Pauyet project was first founded in 1998 at a time when cutlery was scarce on the market, to help meet demand.

Today this group of silversmiths have become true artists working silver, nickel silver and other metals as well as marble and ceramics as they branch out into jewellery and silverware.

The Pauyet project is an expression of the identity of its home province, Ciego de Avila, in central Cuba.

The group’s natural artistic talent shines through, buoyed by the strong craftsmanship tradition of the province that is in evidence at its popular arts and crafts fairs. According to the project’s founderdirector Víctor Rafael Blanco Montaño the name Pauyet comes from Afro- Cuban religion and means “hand with sceptre”.

Pauyet is a symbol of the Afro-Cuban god Obatalá who is represented by a fist firmly grasping a sceptre. It is an expression of power and an emblem of the strength of these deities, the cultural legacy of our African ancestors, who have come to rule over these lands. On spoons and forks it denotes the syncretism, the fusion of African and Spanish culture, that has given rise to the Cuban national identity.

The project takes silver and sliver nickel cutlery as its raw materials along with other metals including scrap to create eclectically graceful designs that incorporate movement and rhythm. Lately new elements namely ceramic and marble have also been added.

The group is also developing a jewellery and silverware range that draws on semiprecious stones, black coral and abalone shell.

Spoons, forks and coffee percolators have come alive as the figures of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, while coconuts and hummingbirds fly with the sparkle of silver nickel. Chess sets, necklaces and jewellery make up collections that have travelled to different parts of the world.

The project converts the functional into art; everyday objects take on unlikely forms. Plants, animals and vehicles feature. Techniques range from cold metalwork to embossing, engraving, hammering and fusion.

Pauyet pieces are on permanent display in more than ten shops and galleries in Havana, as well as in dedicated galleries in Morón and Ciego de Ávila. Outside Cuba, they are on show at small galleries in Argentina, Spain and Italy.

Pauyet’s notable creativity makes it a symbol of excellence in Cuban workmanship.