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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.
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Leonard Maloney was born and raised in the Twin Lakes area and had a traditional upbringing. His mother was Emma Tom who, he recalls, was good at all the traditional activities, even butchering sheep.
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.
Zunis know that Idiwanna, The Middle Place, is the center of the Zuni universe. They know that they were meant to be there, and that all of the natural elements, including the land, the animals and the birds, are under their care, and for their sense of harmony in the universe.
Orin Eriacho grew up in the big rock house south of the Zuni river built by Henry Gasper. The home is most associated with the Tsabetsaye family, and linked to the Walelas. Like most Zunis, Orin was surrounded by creativity and family celebrity, but his entry into the art world came out of his own interests.
All Zunis grow up surrounded by art, but Milford Nahohai has probably done better than most. His family tree looks like more like a Christmas display. Wherever the family name came from, as it is written today it is the Navajo word for rodeo [originally chicken pull] a rather exciting event.
Eldred Martinez is well-connected in the traditional world of Zuni jewelry making, even in the village of silversmiths. His mother Abbey Martinez had Eldred about the time his maternal grandfather, Leo Poblano, lost his life in California.
Claudia Peina comes from an illustrious family; both jewelry and especially fetishes. The earlier generation concentrated mainly on stringing fetishes. Kempsy Kushana, George Haloo, and Miguel and Rami Haloo who carved standing bears. Early on she learned to carve frogs from her aunt Rosalia Quam.
Lewis (Mertz) Malie is a nephew of Maxx and Pernell Laate and as he grew up he watched them work, picking up techniques and inspiration. Though Lewis Malie grew up in a family of carvers, he has developed a work style different than any fetish maker I know of.
Maxx Laate comes from a family of famous Zunis. Less well known is that many of the other top carvers are his brothers and nephews because they go by other surnames. They have mostly lived near each other and Maxx’s brother Pernell has been an inspiration and teacher for many of them, though Zunis don’t teach in the way schools do.
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