Could someone please instruct me as to what the differences are
between major Native American jewelry styles, such as Navajo,
Zuni, Pueblo, etc?
I was going to answer this the other day, and I just plain forgot.
Of course, it’s all generalization, but it’s pretty clear, mostly.
Pueblo doesn’t mean much here. Pueblo Indians are just town-forming
- “Pueblo” is town. Navajos ARE pueblo indians. Just FYI. Many of
the other pueblos besides Navajo do other things, most prominently
pottery. Of course everybody makes everything they want to, but this
is more about industry.
With that said, there are three main makers of Indian jewelry in the
southwest - Navajo, Zuni and Hopi. All three have traditional
designs and in recent times there are contemoporary designs that can
veer pretty wildly from tradition.
Hopi jewelry is overlay, and traditionally the designs are the sort
you see in rugs or sand paintings- dancers, animals real or
mythical. Sometimes stones are added but often they are not.
Zuni jewelry is lapidary. Inlay, needle point and petit point. Inlay
can be anything but is usually also dancers and animals. Both Zuni
and Hopi rely heavily on the same imagery as cachina dolls, what we
might call, “The Gods”. Mudman and others. Needle point is clusters
of stone, almost always turquoise or coral, and the stones are
pointed on both ends. Like a marquise, almost. petit point is pear
shaped, pointed on one end and rounded on the other. People often
misunderstand that the stones come first and the silver comes after,
but actually it’s the other way around - clusters are made, and then
the stones are cut to fit.
Navajo jewelry is big on turquoise as the center piece, and the
metalwork tends to mimic the designs you’ll see on pottery - the
same iconic designs of animals, dancers and such, but much more
abstract and even with hints of wind and rain and the like. Of
course, a whole lot of it is just made to sell, and assigning some
grand meanings to it is pretty silly. But your typical turquoise
ring with a bit of silverwork around it is, if not Navajo, in the
Jo-Ann wants the computer and there’s work to do, but I’ll mention
that many dealers include Inuit/Eskimo/Alaska in the mix of “native
American jewelry” Their work is quite different, but it largely
mimics Navajo styling in a way, though there are also images of the
sea, because they are often coastal…
Hope that helps a bit. Search: Charles Loloma, Preston Monongye and
there are many others. That’s the non-traditional side of it…