Inventory no.: 1683

Spanish Colonial Silver


Five Spanish Colonial Silver Mate Straws (Bombilla)


19th century

lengths: 18.5cm-22.6cm; combined weight: 255g

Each of these five mate straws or sipping tubes (bombilla) is fashioned from solid silver. Each has a mouthpiece at one end and a pierce knob at the other to allow the liquid to be strained of small leaf pieces and other debris before being drawn into the straw. Each straw is decorated either with geometric engraving designs or has been cast with various twists.

Yerba mate is an important beverage that is indigenous to South America. Like tea or coffee, it contains a mild stimulant. A variety of utensils are used in its preparation and consumption. Wealthier households commissioned silver mate utensils.

Yerba or hierba is a species of holly that is native to subtropical South America: northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil and Bolivia. The

leaves are used to make the herbal tea. The leaves are steeped in hot water rather than boiled and sometimes sugar is added.

Similar silver

bombillas are illustrated in Taullard (2004), Davis Boylan (1974), Argent d’Argentine (1992), and Luis Ribera & Schenone (1981).


Argent d’Argentine

, Association Francaise d’Action Artistique, 1992.

Davis Boylan, L.,

Spanish Colonial Silver, Museum of New Mexico Press, 1974.

de Lavalle, J.A. & W. Lang,

Arte y Tesoros del Peru: Plateria Virreynal, Banco de Credito del Peru en la Cultura, 1974.

Luis Ribera, A., & H.H. Schenone,

Plateria Sudamericana de los Siglos XVII-XX, Hirmer Verlag Muchen, 1981.

Taullard, A.,

Plateria Sudemericana, Ediciones Espeula de Plata, 2004.


European private collection

Inventory no.: 1683