Zuni Indian Jewelry

Zuni Indian Jewelry

The Zunis have adapted as the economics of the world around them forced changes. When the making of silver ornaments was introduced in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, they were among the first to pick up the art. For a long time they turned out attractive belts, necklaces, buttons and armbands of silver. Until the turn of the century it was hard to tell Zuni Indian Jewelry from Navajo, and many “experts” feel that Zuni silver was traded from the Navajo. Zunis maintain, with some photographic evidence, that it was the other way around.

Zuni Indian Jewelry - Eldridge Martinez Zuni Indian Jewelry - Eldridge Martinez

Turquoise, a sacred stone, was rare and hard to get historically, though the Zunis had been middle-men in the turquoise trade dating back a thousand years. Most of the mines were further north, the buyers way to the south, so a trade route was established with Zuni somewhat in the middle.

The Kewas, (the Spanish named them Santo Domingos), worked several mines in the Santa Fe area and others the San Luis Valley and into Colorado. These rather extensive mines (with deep tunnels in the rock) were being worked long before the Spanish arrived. This stone was made into beads and small chips were worked into mosaics glued with pine pitch to small boards and used for pendants, earrings, and combs. Some of those combs were sent to the King of Spain by Coronado.

The other emerging style in the twenties featured various forms of mosaic. Purists insist that the word mosaic can only be applied to a number of stones that fit tightly together and create a design or picture. Most people find it convenient to apply the word to any work that approximates that—thus channel work, overlay inlay, true mosaic and the rest (see glossary) can be classified as a single innovation in style. It actually dates back to prehistoric time when early Pueblos were inlaying shell and gluing stones to small pieces of wood. After nearly a century new innovations are still emerging in this style.

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