Jacla, Jackla, Jocla………No matter how you spell it, what is it?

A traditional Pueblo jewelry adornment, a jacla is two loops of heishi that were originally earrings and sometimes fastened to the bottom of a stone necklace as a pendant-like attachment.

Jacla is Navajo for “ear string”. The Navajo spelling is the most commonly used version of the word. Jocla is also common but jackla is a phonetic mis-spelling. Although jaclas are attributed to the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians, they were traded with other tribes so have become associated with the Navajo as well. They are seen in vintage photos being worn by members of all southwest tribes, both men and women.

In the oldest style necklaces, the jacla is a pair of loop earrings tied onto the necklace.

N200-jacla-turq-nugget-2The two loops would be removed from the necklace and used as earrings.   This is how the jacla originated. This necklace is likely from 1910-1920.


I can picture a pre-European-contact Rio Grande Puebloan taking his or her jewelry off and storing it that way. And sometimes when not wanting to wear earrings, just leaving the jacla on the necklace as a pendant.

The jacla might match the necklace it is attached to or be of contrasting heishi. Most jaclas have tabular pieces in the bottom center that are called “corn”. They are most often made from white or orange (spiny oyster) shell or coral. According to Mark Bahti, author of Collecting Southwestern Native American jewelery, jaclas with spiny oyster shell corn are rarely seen and highly prized by many Indians.


The tips of the jacla loops are traditionally finished off with coral, a contrasting shell or trade beads, often red.


In the early 20th century, jaclas started to be incorporated into part of the necklace, so this necklace would have likely been made after 1920, likely in the 50s.


Contemporary artists use the jacla design in many ways such as this block turquoise jacla necklace with spiny oyster corn.


And here’s one in very fine heishi from Santo Domingo artist Paul Tenorio

NH893-5-strand-jacla-ortiz-2 NH893-5-strand-jacla-ortiz-3

Loop earrings are basically a miniature version of a jacla – they are made with and without corn.


14 thoughts on “Jacla, Jackla, Jocla………No matter how you spell it, what is it?

  1. Pingback: Is the turquoise in these jacla necklaces real? | Native American Jewelry Tips

  2. Thank you very much for all the info on your pages. I was trying to find info on a necklace my father bought for my mother back in the ’70s, and was surprised to find all I needed here. It is a beautiful tourqoise necklace that was crafted by a master. Although, I can’t seem to find any marks to identify the maker, it is a beautiful piece of work. Thank you again for the all the help.

  3. I’m curious to know exactly how traditional jacla were worn on the ears, before modern pierced ear posts and wires. I’ve heard varying explanations: they were draped around the ear; they were tied onto headdress and looped around the ear; etc… I need to picture it!

    Love the website – thanks.

  4. Hi, I like the indepth style and knowledge of your NA program. I am re-aquainting myself
    back into NA craftsmanship. Thanks for your presence! I will be back. Regards, Albert

  5. I would like to know if you may give some info as to where can I locate the name of who made
    a necklace I have…beautiful handcrafted Jacla purple yellow and turquoise

  6. The Hopi or Navajo maiden would drape them over her ears. When she got married she would hang them up on her nugget necklace. I’ve had a clasp put on them so I can put them at the bottom of my necklace OR add extensions to them & wear them as a choker. Perhaps with an Indian enhancer on it. Very versatile. God bless you.

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