As I was thinking about the sand art I talked about last week, I realized there was another aspect of the Native American culture that I find fascinating. Their jewelry!
In looking it up I discovered there are several different kinds. Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, Pueblo and Cherokee -- and many more. I'm sure you've driven through the reservations in Arizona and New Mexico and seen the roadside stands selling authentic jewelery. It's amazing work of silver and turquoise. We stopped at Four Corners on our way back from Oaklahoma and it was fun because they had shops from all four states. Each state had their own particular type of jewelry. It was wonderful.
Back in ancient days, they made lots of jewelry with beads, corn, shells and other such available items, but the work they do with silver is simply amazing. I also am surprised at all the different shades of turquoise. I had no idea, I thought it was all just a basic blue/green.
This one is called an emerald valley turquoise.
This is called green king turquoise.
I could spend hours looking through all the various sites that offer authentic jewelry. There's a site that claims to have the only official Cherokee Nation jewelry, there are others that claim to be representatives of the Hopi, Zuni and others. It's mind boggling.
Especially when you think about how few of true craftsmen there are left compared to jewelers in our culture. Their training comes from the tribal elders or apprentice to others that know the craft.
Jewelry making has become a hobby for many women now, with beads, stones and other things available at every craft store in the state. But this is serious art -- something that takes years of practice and learning. Just like anything that is worth doing, takes time to do it right.
Next time you have the chance to go by a roadside stand, take a minute and admire the work -- tell them how much you appreciate their efforts, and perhaps purchase something that you will remember. Native American art abounds and is available to wear.
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