Playing the name game is often as simple as figuring out who a piece actually belongs to when it is marked by initials only. Except without a last name there isn’t much to work from. By now most people have learned that LL stands for Larry Laate, not Lavonne Lalio or Navajo Larry Livingston, Linette Laiwakete perhaps or any other fanciful attribution.
There are a handful of famous Zuni jewelers who either never existed or did not make the jewelry they are famous for. How could this happen, you ask? Traders are always under pressure to put names to jewelry they are trying to sell. This also includes point of sale. Collectors can be very insistent and a familiar name is soothing. Traders also had to put names on jewelry they entered in various competitions.
For two men who were not even remotely related these two talented silversmiths have been inextricably intertwined. Several bits in their biographies may have added to the confusion. Both Navajos were born on the same part of the Reservation not far north of Zuni. Exactly where they were from is unclear because censuses list the place the material was collected. They both appear in the Southern Navajo Agency censuses.
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.
Perry Null Trading Company, which was formerly the Tobe Turpen Trading Company, has been associated with Gallup, New Mexico since the 1930s. It's the perfect stop for your Native American Art Tour Bus Group when visiting this scenic and historic area.
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