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What is a Hallmark?

Hallmarks identify the jewelry maker. Many times they are just simple letter stamps. They are not something new, but can be traced back to the 4th Century. Famous American metal smiths used them before we became a country. Paul Revere who warned the Colonial militia “the British are coming” during the American Revolution used a hallmark on his handmade silver pieces in the 1700s.>

What do you call those Little Silver People  Yeis? Kachinas?

All of the above probably.  None are copies of actual Navajo Yeis or Zuni Koko. The question here is, who made what?  I have discussed the problems of attribution before, apparently without much success.  One often sees figures attributed to OLSON AND MARY LEEKITY based on the initials MO.  Linda Kaplan told me the MO signature is stamped on the work of Navajo ORVILLE MANYGOATS.  [Note:  Male Yeis have square heads, females round.] 

Zuni kokos have appropriately shaped noggins, but they are always masked.  Oherwise they are social dancers including eagle dance, snake dance, harvest dance, buffalos  and the like.

It is stated authoritatively that no Zunis ever made the little guys .  But there are at least two Zuni makers who certainly did.  Artists of skill and importance to the history of Zuni silverwork.



  When I found the first piece by CHARLES HANNAWEEKE  I showed it to a  couple of  his family members who told me Charles and Pauline never did that kind of work.The stamp was mostly obliterated so I dropped my inquiries.  Then I found a few more with clean signatures.

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In a number of ways the Hannaweeke forms are the best.  For one thing they look less like Navajo Yeis and more original, mormysterious.   

Charlie’s most evocative figure is the horned Ogre.

             Call it an ogre for lack of a better word.  Though the horns, menacing mouth and beard might look like some Indian Devil, is represents nothing—at least nothing recognized by an ethnic group. It is an intricately designed form with the close-set and impressive piercing eyes, the long thin horns, the odd top-not.  The row of ovals doesn’t look as much like a ruff as menacing teeth, with a lizard-like tongue hanging down. 



The long skirt is more female than a normal dance kilt, and the figure wears a cape.  Finally, the object in his left hand loosk more like a weapon the right holds some sort of plant.  Neither are the more familiar rattles and wands.  Apparently Charlie liked it; perhaps because it wasn’t very Zuni looking. He used it in a variety of pieces from earrings and pendants to bracelets and pendants.  One important note:  They are always signed.

 

THIS GREAT BRACELET LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN EITHER COLLABORATIVE , OR JUST MORE EMBELLISHED FOR THE PIECE OF JEWELRY IT WAS.  THERE IS A DRILL HOLE IN THE RECYCLED CORAL BEAD.



The most common Hannaweeke model is the one usually given to the Leekitys and made by Navajos.  A standing form, often with crossed arms (not a dance position), usually with three stones in the headdress, and less often one in the belly of the little statue.  A similar square head and tubular eyes and mouth.



        MANYGOATS’  pieces  are usually signed.  Two things not always seen on smaller pieces help identify his work as much as anything—a soaring leaf-shaped head-dress is mostly consistent.  He also has another tell, most of his pieces have old-time open sleeves. Those touches are not seen on all his rings and earrings.

  

A LEAF-LIKE HEADDRESS AND OPEN SLEEVES ARE MARKS OF ORVILLE MANYGOATS’ WORK.  STAMPS M O.

 

Several other Navajos make the silver yeis, most notably DORIS SMALLCANYON, whose work could sometimes pass for ALONZO HUSTITO’S withe three-stone headdress and turquoise eyes similar.



ALONZO HUSTITO The really superb version of the silver yes was done by Alonzo who also signed his work with the small bear stamp (his clan) and initials A. H..  



The leggings on this Eagle Dancer are typical of Hustito’s work.  Most of the little figures have leggings, but Alonzo’s have the same stamp work

  

                                            CLASSIC ALONZO HUSTITO  

          NOT SIGNED

Unsigned pieces are more of a problem.  

The fellow on the  right has creepy eyes and what looks like two mouths.  Maybe the upper one is a nose. His leaf headdress is different than Orville’s.

The guy on the left is even stranger. Don’t know what his headdress is supposed to be.



JERRY ROAN signs with JR.  He does excellent work, but seems to only make eagles.  The ones I have seen are all different, so he doesn’t just use the same  pattern.   

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Pieces have been attributed to M ORTIZ  that are exactly the same as Orville Manygoats—the open sleeves and the leaf headdresses.  Most pieces are quite nice, and not so derivative.  I have not found out much about Mr. Ortiz.  

 

Native American Hallmarks

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 7:23 AM

Native American Hallmarks

Part 1

What is a Hallmark?

Hallmarks identify the jewelry maker. Many times they are just simple letter stamps. They are not something new, but can be traced back to the 4th Century. Famous American metal smiths used them before we became a country. Paul Revere who warned the Colonial militia “the British are coming” during the American Revolution used a hallmark on his handmade silver pieces in the 1700s.

Read More

Top 5 Destinations Native American Arts and Crafts

Thursday, August 13, 2015 7:58 AM

Top 5 Destinations Native American Arts and Crafts

With over 40% of the Native American population residing in the western 1/3rd of the United States it makes perfect sense all five cities are in the West, Southwest to be exact. Arizona and New Mexico have great weather in the summer and in the winter. We have a number of different Native American Tribes in both states. With all the visitors coming to the Land of Enchantment and the Grand Canyon State, the local Native American cultures really get an opportunity to share their art and culture.

Read More

Navajo Chief's Blanket

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 8:10 AM

Navajo Chief's Blankets

 

For Katherine the task seemed simple enough.

“Write something about Navajo Chief's blankets.”

“All right, that's straightforward.”

 

Navajo Chief's Blankets: Exceptionally tight, well woven, wide striped blankets in a dimension wider than long; used as wearing apparel and high value trade items from 1800-1885, favored by the Utes and Plains Indians. The blankets were not specifically woven for “Chiefs,” but were given that designation because they were expensive and considered a status item among Native people. Textile scholars generally concur that there were four phases in the manufacture of Navajo Chief's blankets.

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Faking the Art -Navajo Jewelry, Authentic Artwork

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 8:16 AM

Faking the Art -Navajo Jewelry, Authentic Artwork

Its all a ReMix anyway, right?

If you read your Navajo jewelry history you find out that the Navajo was taught how to make silver by Mexican silversmiths. This event takes place when New Mexico is a US territory, and only within a couple of years of being ceded by Mexico. Technically its not even possible to say the Navajo invented their own jewelry craft.

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