What is a Ketoh, Bowguard (Bow Guard) or Wrist Guard?

 

When shooting a bow, depending on the bow but more importantly, the anatomy, musculature and skill of the archer, it is possible for the bow string to contact the inside of the arm that is holding the bow.

Examples of various archers to illustrate the above point.

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When the bow string contacts the inside of the arm, it results in “string slap”. Here are some examples of the after effects of “string slap”. The location of the injury will vary depending on the person and the bow.

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To protect the inner arm from string slap, arms guards can be used. They can be full length or partial. Partial arm guards are usually centered on the inner forearm (bow guard) or at the wrist (wrist guard).

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Native Americans were skilled with their bows but with the frequent use for hunting and protection, in all types of weather, in variety of positions and when fatigued, it is easy to see why bow guards and wrist guards were used. At first they were just wide strips of the heaviest hide leather. Later other stiff materials such as metal were added.

Navajo began making bowguards are early as 1895; some say earlier.  The Navajo bowguard is called a ketoh. It consists of a metal plate affixed to a leather wrist or arm piece.

The metal plate is either wrought or cast.

A wrought piece is one that has been made from metal either cold (no heat) or using a fire (forge) and hand tools. The term wought is most often used to describe the shaping, altering and molding of various metals using a hammer. In the case of Navajo silver work, this often includes stamping and repousse work. (Repousse is a method of forming a pattern on metal by stamping, hammering or pressing a design from the back to produce a three-dimensional bas-relief surface on the front.)

Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One Harry P. Mera

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See the slide show below for examples of modern wrought pieces.

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A cast piece is one that has been made using a mold and molten metal. Early cast pieces were sand cast. Today they are usually tufa cast. Read more about casting in my previous post Native American Cast Jewelry.

Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One Harry P. Mera

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See the slide show below for examples of modern cast pieces.

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Following are some more historical examples of bow guards from this book.

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Today decorated ketohs and Plains beaded wrist guards are mainly worn for ceremonial and social occasions, including dancing at pow wows. See the slide show below for examples of modern beaded Lakota wrist guards.

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There has been a recent surge in popularity of bow guards as a jewelry item including smaller ketohs for women. See the photo group below for examples of womens’ ketohs.

Following is a slide show that that show the various ways ketohs can be worn. The sky is the limit as to where you position your ketoh and how you tie it on.

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Paula

Old Bee Stamp on Vintage Navajo Jewelry

This bracelet, likely from 1920s- 1940s (per some learned colleagues) has a distinctive bee stamp on it.

This stamp has been linked to some very old jewelry but so far I have not been able to pin down who might have made this stamp or who used it.

If you have any information on the bee stamp, I’d love to know.

Thanks, Paula

Hallmarks on Mexican Silver Jewelry

A big part of my job is sorting through boxes of jewelry from estate lots or personal collections that come into the store where I work. The boxes are meant to contain only Native American jewelry but often there is southwest style costume jewelry and Mexican jewelry mixed in.

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I set aside the jewelry with Mexican hallmarks and when I get a batch, I research and list it in our Mexican Jewelry section.

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I thought it would be helpful to outline what I have learned about Mexican silver jewelry hallmarks.

First of all, deciphering Mexican hallmarks is an imperfect science. That is, while I will try to provide some guidelines, the system is not black and white, is not accurate. Hallmarks are sometimes used improperly or fraudulently, old hallmarks are mixed with new hallmarks, so in general, the results are often unreliable.

With that said, there is a very good reference book that will give you some help. The Little Book of Mexican Silver Trade and Hallmarks by Bille Hougart.

OK, forging ahead – here are some very general Mexico Silver hallmark guidelines from 1900, which is the age of most of the Mexican silver we get in our store:

During 1900-1948, there was no eagle hallmark. Most pieces were stamped MEXICO and either SILVER or STERLING. They might also have the name of the region such as TAXCO stamped as well as a silver purity such as 925, 950 etc.

From 1948-1980, eagle hallmarks were used to signify sterling content. If there was a an eagle, it was to guarantee the piece was at least of sterling content (.925). The eagle stamp was used with a number to designate origin. For example, 3 for Taxco, 1 for Mexico City (Distrito Federal). Numbers were also assigned to established silver shops.

In 1980, the eagle system was replaced with a Registration Number system. The number stamped on the items consisted of two letters, a dash, and a number.

The first letter represented a place, such as Taxco or another area or city.

The second letter represented the name of the maker, but it could be either the first of last name.

The number after the dash is simply that person’s registration number. Numbers were assigned in order of application for each 2 letter combo.

In recent years the registration system has deteriorated – through lack of enforcement and misuse –  so many makers no longer use it and instead sign their pieces with their own hallmarks – in my opinion, that is as it should be.

Below I am going to show some hallmarks from items that have passed through our store. Using the guidelines above, try to place them in the proper time period. Underneath them I will give my best guess of their age but I welcome input and feedback.

MEXICO SILVER – likely 1900-1948

MEXICO STERLING – likely 1900-1948

S.R. SILVER MADE IN MEXICO – likely 1900-1948

STERLING 925 TAXCO – likely 1900-1948

STERLING TAXCO MEXICO – likely 1900-1948

TAXCO 925 MEXICO DM- likely 1900-1948

TAXCO 925 – likely 1900-1948

Eagle with a 3; STERLING TAXCO MEXICO cCc in center – likely 1948-1980

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eagle with an illegible number; PLATA 0925 GUAD MEX – likely 1948-1980

925 MEXICO TR-151 The T stands for Taxco; R is for either the first or last name of the maker and 151 means he was the 151st person to register a TR hallmark – likely made after 1980

a hand and HECHO A MANO 925. The hallmark of contemporary artist Manuel Porcayo Figueroa. Contemporary.

Because of the unreliable nature of Mexican stamps, we have found quite a number of items stamped Sterling or 925 do not test positive for sterling silver using a simple acid test. Therefore we test all items in spite of their hallmarks before we list them in our Mexican Shop. We provide all the hallmark information we can discern from each piece even though we are often not able to attribute it to a particular individual.

A side note – another common metal used in Mexican jewelry is alpaca which is an alloy made of nickel, zinc and copper. Often you will see the work ALPACA stamped on such items. But I’ve found that alpaca items are sometimes stamped 925, thus our rigorous testing policy.

Paula

Lauris Phillips Notes on Dating Native American Jewelry

The two page chronology of Early Native American Jewelry that I am posting at the end of this article is thought to be part of handouts of Lauris Phillips at her presentations in the 1990s and beyond.

To learn more about Lauris so as to gain some perspective on her historical timeline, I’m providing links to some articles featuring her and her husband.

July 5, 1999 Associated Press article “Indian Jewelry Pretty – but is is genuine?”

November 25, 1999 Los Angeles Times Original Americana

June 3, 2013 JIM AND LAURIS PHILLIPS COLLECTION IN SPOTLIGHT AT BONHAMS JUNE NATIVE AMERICAN ART AUCTION

June 18, 2013 Sadly we need to go to her obituary to learn more about her life.

June 2015 Press Release Wheelright Museum for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry

June 28, 2015 Jim and Lauris Phillips Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry

Summer 2015 American Indian Art Magazine “The Jim and Lauris Phillips Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian”

September 11, 2016 Southwestern Jewelry Gets A Study Center

Paula

Native American Reference Library at Horsekeeping LLC

There are many good reference books on Native American topics that prove valuable when researching items in the estate lots that come into our store. Starting with a handful of essential hallmark books, our reference library has grown !

Below my signature at the end of this post is a list of many (but not all) of the books in our reference library.

Some we reach for every day, others only when a unique question comes up.

I reach for this 3 Volume set regularly – Zuni, The Art and the People

I’ve organized the books in my list by categories so that I can find them easier when I need them – that’s what the headings and abbreviations refer to.

As usual, comments are welcome. If you post in the comment section at the end of this article, other readers will be able to see what you have to say. Let us know if you have read any of these books – which are your favorites, which might have misinformation, which ones are trusted.

I am continually on the lookout for books to add to the reference library and that results in me (more often than I’d like to admit) purchasing the same book twice! Have you ever done that? That’s the main reason I made up this book list  – so I can see at a glance what is in the library.

Once a year I go through the entire library to find the duplicates. Click on the book below to go to the page of extra books we have for sale right now.

Used Native American books for sale

 

Paula

HORSEKEEPING LLC – NATIVE AMERICAN REFERENCE BOOK LIST

ARTS AND CRAFTS

AC Guide to American Folk Art of the Southwest – Lamb

AC Native North American Art – Berlo

AC Navajo Arts and Crafts – Schiffer

AC North American Indian Artifacts – Hothem

AC Southwest Art Defined – Booker

FETISH

F Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings – Lamb

F Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings Vol 2 – McManis

F Native American Fetishes – Whittle

F Spirit in the Stone – Bahti

F Zuni Fetish Carvers McManis

F Zuni Fetish Carvers of the 1970s McManis

F Zuni Fetish Carvings Finkelstein

F Zuni Fetishes 1966 – Cushing

F Zuni Fetishes 1999 – Cushing

F Zuni Fetishes and Carvings First Edition 2004 – McManis

F Zuni Fetishes and Carvings Second Edition 2010 – McManis

F Zuni Fetishes– Bennett

F Zuni Fetishism – Kirk

FRED HARVEY

FH Fred Harvey – Armstrong

FH Fred Harvey Jewelry – June

FH Inventing the Southwest Fred Harvey Company – Howard

FH Native American Curio Trade in NM Battin

HALLMARKS

HM American Indian Jewelry I II and III Schaaf

HM Hallmarks of the Southwest – Wright

HM Hopi Silver – Wright

HM Little Book of Marks on Southwestern Silver – Hougart

HM Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks – Hougart

HM Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry – Messier

HOPI

H Book of the Hopi – Waters

H Hopi Following the Path of Peace

H Loloma

H Spider Woman Stories – Mullett

H Truth of a Hopi – Nequatewa

KACHINA

K Hopi Kachina Dolls – Colton

K Hopi Kachinas – Wright

MEXICAN

M Mexican Jewelry – Davis and Peck

M Mexican Silver & Hallmarks – Hougart

M Mexican Silver – Morrul and Berk

NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY

NAJ Beesh Ligaii in Balance The Besser Collection – Torres-Nez

NAJ Collecting Southwest Native American Jewelry – Bahti

NAJ Evolving Southwest Indian Jewelry – Schiffer

NAJ Fine Indian Jewelry of the Southwest Millicent Rogers Museum Collection – Tisdale

NAJ Generations The Helen Cox Kersting Collection – Nottage

NAJ Guide to Indian Jewelry of the Southwest – Simpson

NAJ How to Invest in Indian Jewelry – Gillespie

NAJ Indian Jewelry Fact and Fantasy – Lund

NAJ Indian Jewelry of the American Southwest – Turnbaugh

NAJ Indian Jewelry on the Market – Schiffer

NAJ Indian Silver Jewelry of the Southwest 1968-1930 – Frank

NAJ Jewelry by Southwest American Indians – Schiffer

NAJ Masterworks and Eccentricities The Druckman Collection – Bauver

NAJ Native American Art 2018 Magazine

NAJ Native American Bolo Ties – Pardue

NAJ Navajo Jewelry A Legacy of Silver and Stone – Jacka

NAJ Navajo Silversmith Fred Peshlakai: His Life & Art

NAJ Silver and Stone – Bahti

NAJ Skystone and Silver – Rosnek

NAJ Southwest Indian Silver from the Doneghy Collection – Lincoln

NAJ Southwest Silver Jewelry – Baxter

NAJ Southwestern Indian Bracelets – Baxter

NAJ Southwestern Indian Jewelry 1992 – Cirillo

NAJ Southwestern Indian Jewelry 2008 – Cirillo

NAJ Southwestern Indian Rings – Baxter

NAJ What You Should Know about Authentic Indian Jewelry – Conroy

NAVAJO

NAV Navajo English Dictionary – Morgan

NAV Navajo Indian Myths – O’Bryan

NAV Navajo Taboos – Bulow

NAV Navajo Walking in Beauty

NAV The book of the Navajo – Locke

NAV The Navaho – Kluckhohn and Leighton

NAV The Navaho – Watkins

PLAINS

PL American Buffalo – Rinella

PL Black Elk & Flaming Rainbow – Neihardt

PL Fools Crow – Mails

PL Healing Power of Horses – Lessons from the Lakota – Baker

PL Indians of the Plains – Lowie

PL Keep Going – Marshall III

PL Lakota Belief and Ritual – Walker

PL Lakota Seeking the Great Spirit

PL Lame Deer Seeker of Visions – Lame Deer and Erdoes

PL Madonna Swan – St. Pierre

PL Offering Smoke – Paper

PL Red Horse Owner’s Winter Count – Karol

PL Stories of the Sioux – Standing Bear

PL The Journey of Crazy Horse – Marshall III

PL The Sacred Pipe Black Elk – Brown

RUGS

R Guide to Navajo Rugs – Lamb

R Guide to Navajo Weaving – McManis

R Navajo Weavings – McManis

R Weaving a Navajo Blanket – Reichard

REFERENCE

REF Antique Jewelry Warman

REF Dictionary of the American Indian

REF Encyclopedia of Native American Jewelry – Baxter

REF Field Guide to Southwest Indian Arts and Crafts – Page

REF Idiots Guide to NA History

REF Indian Jewelry of the Prehistoric Southwest – Jacka and Hammack

REF Jewelry and Gem Buying Guide Matlins

REF Jewelry of the Prehistoric Southwest – Jernigan

REF Jewelry Warman

REF Native American History – Nies

REF North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment – Dubin

REF Rocks, Gems and Mineral

REF The Earth Shall Weep – Wilson

REF Warman’s Jewelry Price Guide

SILVER

S Indian Jewelry Making Vol 1 and 2 – Branson

S Indian Silver – Navajo and Pueblo Jewelry – Bedinger

S Indian Silver Vol 2 – King

S Indian Silversmithing – Hunt

S Indian Silverwork of the Southwest, Illustrated Volume One and 2 booklets – Mera

S Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths – Adair

S Navajo Silver – Hegemann

S Navajo Silver , a brief history of Navajo Silversmithing– Woodward

SYMBOLS

SYM American Indian Design and Decoration – Appleton

SYM Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols Patterson

SYM Heart of the Dragonfly Birt

SYM Picture Writing of the American Indians 1 & 2

TURQUOISE

T Arizona Highways Turquoise Blue Book

T Jewel of the Southwest – Turquoise – Osburn

T Turquois Pogue

T Turquoise and the Indian – Bennett

T Turquoise Jewelry – Schiffer

T Turquoise Jewelry of the Indians of the Southwest – Bennett

T Turquoise Mines Mineral and Wearable Art – Block

T Turquoise The Gem of the Century – Branson

T Turquoise The World Story of a Fascinating Gemstone – Lowry

T Turquoise Trail – Karasik

T Turquoise Unearthed – Lowry

TRADITIONS, MYTHS, and RELIGION

T&M American Indain Ceremonies

T&M American Indian Stories – Zitkala-Sa

T&M Animal Speak – Andrews

T&M Encyclopedia of Native American Healing – Lyon

T&M Hisoric Books Detailing Native American Indian Religions – DVD

T&M Indian Legends – Clark

T&M Native American Dance

T&M Native American Mythology Gill & Sullivan

T&M Native American Myths and Legends Taylor

T&M Native American Traditions – Versluis

T&M North American Indian Mythology Burland

T&M Southwestern Indian Ceremonials

T&M The Sons of the Wind – Dooling

T&M The Spirit of Indian Women – Fitzgerald

T&M The Voices of the Winds – Edmonds and Clark

T&M The Wind is My Mother – Bear Heart

T&M The Wisdom of the Native Americans – Nerburn

TRIBES

TR America’s Indian Background – Walker

TR American Indians of the Southwest Dutton

TR Enclyclopedia of Native American Tribes – Waldman

TR Encyclopedia of Native American Indians – Hoxie

TR Encyclopedia of North American Indians – Ciment

TR Native American The Pueblos Erdoes

TR The North American Indian Images – Curtis DVD

TR The Story of the Cherokee People – Underwood

ZUNI

Z Figural Designs in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Hopi Bird and Sunface in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Kachinas and Ceremonial Dancers in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Knifewing and Rainbow Man in Zuni Jewelry – Sei

Z Whos Who in Zuni Jewelry –

Z Zuni Jewelry – 3rd edition – Bassman

Z Zuni, A Village of Silversmiths – Ostler

Z Zuni, the Art and the People, Vol 1, 2 3 – Bell

Z Zunis, The by Zunis

 

MORE BOOKS SUGGESTED BY READERS……..

Ray Manley’s Portraits and Turquoise of Southwest Indians” with text by Clara Lee Tanner.

Dragonfly and the Isleta Cross

About the Isleta Cross

Also called the Pueblo Cross, the Isleta Cross is a very old Pueblo design associated with the Isleta Pueblo. The double-bar cross design is said to have originated with the Moors and Spaniards.

To the Pueblo Indians the double-bar cross was very similar to the dragonfly symbol of their culture, so many Puebloans incorporated the Isleta cross in their jewelry. By the early twentieth century, Pueblo artisans made elegant necklaces with a large central cross as a pendant and smaller crosses along the sides interspersed with beads.

Many crosses of Spanish and Mexican origin as well as Isleta crosses have a heart or a partial heart at the bottom. This is sometime referred to as the “bleeding heart”. In the Catholic Church, the Sacred Heart (the pierced and bleeding heart) alludes to the manner of Jesus’ death and represents Christ’s goodness and charity through his wounds and ultimate sacrifice. However it has been said that the reason the Puebloans put a heart on the bottom of their crosses was for other reasons. They felt it represented the big generous heart of the dragonfly who loved the people. Also, the Pueblo women were said to like the crosses with the hearts on the bottom better, so it could have simply been a case of fashion preference.

The Isleta Pueblo is located in central New Mexico, on the east bank of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. It is on the same site as when it was discovered in 1540. It was the seat of the Franciscan mission of San Antonio de Isleta from approximately 1621 until the Pueblo revolt of 1680. The Spaniards captured the pueblo in 1681. In the late 1700’s, when Isleta was repopulated with native peoples, it became the mission of San Agustín de Isleta. Tiwa, a Tanoan language, is the tongue of the Isleta Pueblo.

Read more about Pueblo here What does Pueblo mean?

About the Dragonfly

The dragonfly is associated with many Native American tribes but most notably those of the southwest beginning with early HOHOKAM and MIMBRES depictions on pottery. Early Puebloans and many contemporary southwest artists have continued the tradition.

from Heart of the Dragonfly by Allison Bird

Mimbres reproduction Dragonfly AD 1250 Site Mimbres Valley New Mexico

 

Dragonfly represents rain and its life-giving force, a source of renewal for the land, plants, animals and thus allows human life.

from Landscape of the Spirits: Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park By Todd W. Bostwick, Peter Krocek

1000 year old dragonfly-petroglyph photo by bryan-pfeiffer – click photo to learn more……………

 

From Rock Art Symbols by Alex Patterson

The dragonfly inspires spiritually and creatively and helps us on the path of discovery and enlightenment.

It spiritually embodies the stripping away all negativity that holds us back, helping us to achieve our dreams and goals.

Dragonfly is the keeper of dreams, the energy within that sees all of our true potential and ability. Dragonfly reminds us that anything is possible.

If you have ever seen a dragonfly’s wings glisten in the sunlight you can see why they have inspired jewelers. And how their intricately colored bodies would lead to works of stone inlay.

It is no wonder that contemporary Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and other southwest silversmiths create many beautiful dragonfly pieces.

Paula

 

Charles Loloma Badger Paw Pendant

When this piece arrived in an estate lot several years ago, I fell in love with it immediately – purely for its design and symbolism. I didn’t even look at the back – just thought it was an extraordinary piece.

Then I turned it over…..and………thought………..could it be?

I started googling and soon had a strong feeling this could be a piece by Hopi legend Charles Loloma.

So I wrote to the niece of Charles Loloma, Verma Nequatewa.

Sonwai is the artistic name used by Verma Nequatewa. Verma began working with her uncle, the late Charles Loloma, in the mid-1960’s and continued working with him until his studio closed in the early 1990’s. At that time, she opened her own studio and has been continuing his teachings through her own jewelry.

Here is the reply I received from Bob Rhodes in response to my photos and email to Verma : “The pendant has a tufa-cast back and inlay of turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral and ironwood. It is difficult to see the detail in the photo, so I may have missed something.
The piece represents what Charles called a “Badger Hand.” Charles was Badger clan and this is his concept of a combination of badger paw and human hand. It was most likely made at the Loloma Studio at Hotevilla, AZ in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. At that time he often did not differentiate between turquoise from different mines. He had a wash basin that he put all sorts of turquoise in, then picked pieces out for different colors and shapes. He did only use natural, not treated, turquoise, so some of the stones will “mature” or change color as they are exposed to light, air and skin oils. What you have is a very representational piece of Loloma jewelry of that time period. ”

Well I got goose bumps and thanked them both so much for the thoughtful and detailed reply.

They appreciated the photos as they are collecting as many as they can of Charles Loloma’s pieces.

Charles Loloma (1921-1991) was an active Hopi artist from 1949-1991. He is one of the most innovative and influential Native American artists of his time. He used many techniques including tufa casting, lost wax casting, stone and wood inlay, and cobblestone.

Although he was also a painter and ceramicist, he is most well known for his jewelry.

This badger paw pendant is an example of the high stone-to-stone inlay he became so well-known for.

According to Loloma himself, “I am not versed in the exact date that I started working in jewelry, but my guess is it was in 1947 when I was a student at Alfred University. I was working in pottery and silver.”

In the mid 1950s Loloma moved to Scottsdale, Arizona and began making jewelry in earnest.

The name Loloma translates to “many beautiful colors” which is certainly evident in his work. He broke from the tradition of solely using turquoise and coral by adding unusual stones of bright color as well as fossilized ivory and imported woods such as iron wood.

Much has been written about Charles Loloma – see Southwestern Indian Jewelry, Crafting New Traditions by Dexter Cirillo.

Paula