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.
This is the title of Chapter VI in the seminal book Turquoisby Joseph E. Pogue [who left the e off the end], published in 1915 by The National Academy of Sciences. More than 100 years later it is still a question.
We complain all the time about so many silversmiths deliberately not signing their work well up into the Fifties and how nice it would be if everyone had marked their pieces, but that is not always correct. The signature of two letters LL has two or three takers at any moment, though the two most prominent ones are both gone.
The bolo tie has nothing to do with the Argentine throwing weapon that consists of three round stones tied together with leather thongs. With that thing around your neck you were in trouble. It was also not invented by some fellow in Arizona with a good imagination in 1940 something. In fact, the bolo tie has been around in some form for many years
Up front, we are talking about three hundredths of one percent between sterling and coin. In her 1936 pamphlet on Navajo silver, Margery Bedinger gives three lengthy paragraphs—half a page—to explaining the difference between sterling silver and coin silver.
In the 1940 Federal census Frank Vacit (25) was living in the household of Old Man Leekya, married to his eldest daughter Elizabeth (21). Leekya was the only member of the family listed as a silversmith. Frank gave his occupation as “unpaid family farm worker” and his income for the year $180. But under “other income” he checked “yes”. There is no explanation.
Most chroniclers of the Spanish invasion, several attempts over two centuries, found the subject of turquoise irresistible. The Zunis were imagined long before they were found. The magic number was seven, and the Spanish tried over an over to find the “seven islands of Atlantis, seven great caves, and, of course, the “Seven Cities of Cibola” where there were vast stores of gold and turquoise. Boy were they disappointed.
The earliest Zuni maker of jewelry who can be identified with certainty is Juan De Dios, who taught his nephew Dan Simplicio Sr. and several other Zunis. Juan remains mysterious but Lee Weebothe remembers him well and has told me some great stories. There are two Juan De Dioses in the 1885 census, both born in 1876. De Dios manages to avoid being listed in most of the later censuses.
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