Supporting the Navajo Nation and Zuni tribe by getting authentic Native American

Posted by tedmark on January 19th, 2015

What do you first think of when you hear ‘Zuni jewelry’ or ‘Navajo Nation’? For many people, Native American tribes are defined by their incredible artistry in producing jewelry. Indeed, the Zuni and Navajo communities are best known for the masterpieces they create out of natural gemstones and organic materials: beautiful and original necklaces, elegant bracelets, fetish rings and all sorts of adornments that impress through their uniqueness.

In the tradition of the Navajo Nation and the Zuni community, jewelry played an important part in tribal identity and in establishing hierarchies within these communities. Each clan made jewelry with certain characteristics, so different communities could recognize each other by the jewelry they wore. In time, these tribes developed their own hallmarks, hallmarks which are now used to identify authentic jewelry from cheap imitations. At the same time, tribe leaders wore the most intricate and beautiful jewelry as a symbol of status, but also for protection. The Zuni clans, for instance, hunters in their origins, used to carve animal figures on bones, wood, antlers, coral and various precious or semi-precious stones because they believed that these fetishes offered protection against all sorts of evil. Even today, Zuni communities still use these fetishes on the jewelry they produce. Zuni jewelry pieces are, as such, decorative elements as well as lucky charms that Indians say keep harm away from their wearers.

Zuni jewelry, as well as the jewelry crafted by the Navajo Nation, is unique. In fact, no two items are the same, and that’s because the materials they use, especially the gemstones inserted in the jewelry, don’t have the same consistency, shape or color. Turquoise stones, for example, can have different shapes and colors, ranging from sky-blue (the most appreciated shade for Turquoise) to dark green. In what concerns the techniques of producing Navajo and Zuni jewelry, each artist has its own ‘secrets’. Crafting jewelry is, for Indian artists, a form of art, so every jewel created bears the personality of the maker, which makes it impossible to have two identical objects.

The introduction of silver in Zuni jewelry and Navajo Nation jewelry just two centuries ago took Indian jewels’ artistry to a whole new level. Indian artists started using silver in most of their handcrafts, creating unique channel inlay designs which are now representative for Native American jewelry. When we see turquoise or coral and silver together, we immediately associate the jewels with the Indian culture, which is highly adaptable and never ceases to receive new forms and new inspiration. This means that this tradition, this culture is still alive, and that’s all thanks to the efforts of Indian jewelry artists who dedicate their time to creating wonderful masterpieces for all of us. Buying authentic Zuni and Navajo jewelry is one of the ways to support this wonderful heritage of the Native Americans, heritage which also belongs to each of us as global citizens.

Native American art needs to be protected and sustained adequately: make sure the Navajo Nation jewelry and Zuni jewelry you purchase is authentic – buy it only from reputable Indian artists.

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