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

NATIVE AMERICAN WISDOM

 

American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation

Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.

Navajo Pendant – First People

Native Code of Ethics
1. Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).

Zuni Man

2. Respect: Respect means “To feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy”. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times. Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers, and Community Leaders.
No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.

Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person’s quiet moment or personal space.

Never walk between people that are conversing.

Lakota Stick

Never interrupt people who are conversing.

Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.

Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).

Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.

Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend her.

Navajo beaded bracelets – sacred animal world.

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Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.

Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.

Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.

Chief’s Pipe

3. Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.

4. Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.

5. Always treat your guests with honor and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house, and your best service to your guests.

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Sterling Silver Navajo Cup

6. The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.

7. Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.

8. All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.

9. To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

10. Observe moderation and balance in all things.

11. Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.

12. Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

Navajo Pin Pendant

This article is a reprint from the “Inter-Tribal Times” – October 1994

+++++++++++++

Love of the Land
The old people came literally to love the soil, and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.
Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest upon the earth, and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing. This is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly.
He can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
– Chief Luther Standing Bear –
Teton Sioux, Born 1868

Lakota Buffalo Stick

Native American Prayer
Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things your have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

Zuni Maiden

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

– Chief Yellow Lark –
Lakota –

Lakota Doll

What is Life
What is Life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.
It is the little shadow
which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset.
– Crowfoot –
Blackfoot Indian

Lakota Ledger Art

 

By Chief Seattle
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone,
Man would die from
a great loneliness of the spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts
soon happens to man.”

Mother Earth Turtle Lakota Sage Bag

The Teaching of Tecumseh
Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger,if in a lonely place
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

Zuni Warrior Maiden

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.

Native American Jewelry Authentication Resources – Buyer Beware

This necklace fooled a lot of people, including the savvy collector who bought it years ago as well as several dealers in the business for over 40 years. It is not Native American made – it was made in the Philippines.

 

BUYERS

If you are thinking of purchasing a piece of vintage or contemporary jewelry and you assume or are told by the seller that it is Native American made, before you plunk down the cash, I encourage you to read through this article to find ways to authenticate the piece.

ebay has some very good sellers and can be a great place to shop but it is also loaded with counterfeit items and misrepresented pieces. BUYER BEWARE !

This is especially important if you are considering purchasing on eBay, etsy or one of the Native American warehouse type sites. While there are many educated, experienced, honest sellers on the internet, there are also those who either  A. don’t know or B. intentionally misrepresent. The latter type of seller really confuses things for everybody. So buying Native American jewelry on eBay or other auction sites is definitely a case of Buyer Beware.

SELLERS

I know there are many long-term, experienced and honest sellers of Native American jewelry around. So this information is not directed at you. The intent is to help new and inexperienced sellers of Native American jewelry.

If you are new to the Native American jewelry arena, know that if you are describing a piece as Native American made, you have a legal responsibility to be sure that it is authentic. These resources are provided to both serve your customers AND protect you as the seller.

Your reputation depends on satisfied customers and honest transactions. It doesn’t take long for word to get around if you are trying to pull a fast one to make a bigger sale through misrepresentation. And using “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut it. As a seller you are legally obligated to accurately represent the authenticity of an item. If you don’t know, take a deep breath, say you know don’t know and most importantly, don’t call it Native American.

NATIVE AMERICAN MADE OR NATIVE AMERICAN STYLE?

There is

A. authentic Native American made jewelry

B. counterfeit jewelry sold as Native American made (see next section)

C. Native American style jewelry that is not Native American made.

The latter type is also sometimes referred to as southwest jewelry since it copies many of the materials and designs of the southwest tribes.

I got into a funny back and forth discussion once with a customer who was trying to sell us her jewelry collection, mostly non NA made. They were nice sterling silver inlay pieces very typical of the southwest style. I said we weren’t interested as they were not authentic NA made. But she kept insisting that they were “real”, I think referring to the materials. Yes, real in the sense that you can touch and see the sterling and stone but they still were not made by NA hands, so they were not authentic NA made.

A perfect example of this type of “real” southwest jewelry (but not authentic Native American made jewelry) is Carolyn Pollack jewelry. Some of the pieces from that company are sterling silver and some also have real stones. People that like it love it.

Carolyn Pollack Southwest Style -Sterling Silver-YES …………………….. Real Turquoise – PROBABLY NOT ……………………………………………Pretty- YES ………………………………………………………………………….. Native American made – NO

There is a place for all type of items in the marketplace – as long as they are described accurately. Call a spade a spade.  You can read a little bit more about southwest style jewelry in my article “Info please on this pendant necklace with a crescent moon and a R”.

To qualify as Native American made, the piece must be made by a recognized, enrolled member of a Native American tribe.

Sterling Silver Wedding Basket Pendant by Navajo artist R.H. Begay

Read about the rules and regulations at the website of The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 where it states that “it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian tribe.”

Below is an excellent article about a historic authentication group UITA.

Quest for Authenticity – The United Indian Traders Association: Better Quality, Greater Sales by Bille Hougart

FAKE NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY

There is a lot of counterfeit jewelry around – it is being sold as Native American made but is NOT. This is a distressing fact of life. What is even sadder is that the counterfeiters even copy the known hallmarks of legitimate NA artists, cutting sharply into the profits of the authentic artists and making it hard for even seasoned retailers to know the difference. Grrrrrrrr………..

Some of the counterfeit jewelry seized in a recent raid

Much of this type of counterfeit jewelry comes from overseas and is blatantly sold right in the heart of Indian country such as Gallup, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and the like.

To read about this problem and the latest sting operation, read  Biggest Fake Native American Art Conspiracy Revealed

HALLMARKS

 

 

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Hallmarks are a great aid in linking an artist to a work but they are only one piece of the puzzle. It is just as important to know materials and design style of an artist. And due to the counterfeiting of the hallmarks themselves, some hallmarks are faked!

Authentic Native American items may or may not be hallmarked. Hallmarks are much more common since the 1970s but even today, many artists do not sign their work. This is especially true of stone necklaces, Navajo Pearls and earrings where there isn’t a convenient place to put a a hallmark. Hallmark tags are sometimes used on necklaces.

For more on hallmarks, read my articles:

What is a Native American Hallmark?

Native American Hallmark Books

Book Review – Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks by Bille Hougart

Here is another great article from a favorite blogger of mine Kim Messier Reassessing Native American Hallmark Books

There is also an extensive hallmark list on this website

BOOKS

Besides hallmark books, there are many other books and published materials related to vintage and contemporary Native American jewelry. Look through the list of books in our reference library by clicking the link below:

Native American Reference Library at Horsekeeping LLC

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BUY DIRECT FROM THE ARTIST OR FROM TRUSTED SELLERS

The best way to know you are buying authentic items, is to buy directly from the artist or from trusted galleries and sellers.

Horsekeeping LLC

Most artists are not set up to sell retail – they do not have stores or websites. Some artists do. But most sell to gallery or store owners that want to carry their work.  For example, read our authenticity policy at our webstore horsekeeping.com.

Authenticity of Native American Jewelry Policy at Horsekeeping

Vintage Shop at Horsekeeping LLC

Our MO (Method of Operation) is that if we have not purchased the item directly from the artist (which occurs frequently when we purchase estate lots) we try to authenticate the origin definitively. If we can not, then we do not call it Native American, we do not call it Navajo, Zuni or Hopi. We just sell it as-is even though it might show all the characteristics of being Native American made. This is important to us, to our customers and to Native American artists.

If an item is of unknown origin and/or materials and does not show design or workmanship characteristics of Native American jewelry, it goes into the Bargain Barn. We have made a few mistakes over the years and put some valuable things in there just because we couldn’t authenticate them. But better to err on the safe side.

Bargain Barn for items of unknown origin

 

CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY

Unless filled out by the artist, a COA is not worth the paper it is printed on………..

Legally, only the artist who makes a piece can fill out a Certificate of Authenticity (COA). Otherwise IMHO, a COA is not worth the paper it is printed on. Therefore, for a seller to send you a generic certificate or one that the seller signs serves no purpose. Most artists sign their work with a hallmark.  Of those that do not sign, very few provide COAs.

NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY GROUPS

So what to do in the case of unsigned vintage or contemporary pieces? One route it to find Native American jewelry “experts”. The internet makes this possible through groups.

There are many groups on the internet that are devoted to Native American jewelry,. Some have great educational and sharing atmospheres! Others are negative and combative and some members give answers and opinions that are self-aggrandizing and self-serving. As with any group, the cream will rise to the top.  I’ll list a few of my favorite groups below. After you successfully join the group, ask for comments on the piece you are considering buying or are getting ready to sell.

Here are some group tips:

  1. When you post to a group, give as much information as possible: dimensions, weight, type of materials, where you got it, any other provenance you might have.
  2. Include a lot of photos with your question. They should be large, clear and show all aspects of the piece, including closeups of key features and hallmarks. Even with all this it is sometimes hard to tell for sure if something is authentic from photos. There is nothing like having the piece in hand. But in many cases, photos do the trick because certain aspects are easily recognizable.
  3. Everyone has an opinion. Some opinions are better than others. And some opinions are just not right ! Once you join a group you will soon learn which members not only have an opinion but back it up with experience, facts, information and research. Those members are gold.
  4. Some comments might sting because not all members filter their thoughts. Your 1970s bracelet might be called rough or ugly even if it IS NA made. So brace yourself for some honest opinions. Also be ready for people to make inappropriate comments when they haven’t even taken the time to thoroughly look at your photos, read your description or read previous comments. Some just leap before they look. Or look but do not see. So take all comments with a grain of salt.
  5. Be polite and grateful and contribute when you can – that’s what makes a community work !
  6. Don’t use the group space for personal chatter and silliness. Most groups prefer to stick to the topics at hand. Post a serious inquiry, you are likely to get a serious answer. After all, that is what you want, right?

Here are some of my favorite groups – please let me know of others that you think should be added to the list.

Navajo Jewelry: Antique, Mid-Century, & Contemporary

Historic Navajo Jewelry

Let’s Talk Turquoise

Historic Hopi and Pueblo Jewelry

Contemporary Zuni Jewelry

Historic Zuni Jewelry

Zuni Jewelry – Let the Buyer Beware

Paula

Plains Pipe Feather Drop

 

Vintage Plains Pipe with Feather Drop

Once you have chosen your pipe bowl and stem, you can use them as is or dress them up with beads and feathers. See the end of this article for a list of other posts here on my blog about the Lakota chanunpa.

Lakota Four Winds Eagle Effigy Pipe made from sacred pipestone

Lakota made ash pipe stem

One traditional Plains addition is a feather drop which can be attached a number of ways and embellished as you see fit.

A feather drop can be attached to the stem in a number of ways.

 

Feather Drop – Turkey as Eagle

Feather Drop – Turkey as Raven

Feather Drop Details

 

Vintage Plains pipe

For more information, read my other related posts by clicking on the links below:

Native American Pipes – The Sacred Pipe
Lakota Four Winds Pipes
Sacred Red Pipestone from Minnesota

Paula

Authentic Native American Indian Fetish Necklaces

To begin talking about Native American fetish necklaces, first a little bit about fetishes.

A Native American fetish is a stone or shell carving and sometimes antler or wood, usually in the image of an animal.

Zuni Horse Fetish made of Acoma Jet

Indian fetishes can be carried or displayed. Those that are carried are often called pocket fetishes.

Lakota Pipestone Buffalo Fetish – makes a great pocket fetish because of its smooth surface and sturdy construction.

Those that are displayed are called table fetishes.

Zuni Deer Fetish carved from Antler

Zuni artists are the traditional fetish carvers but there are many talented Navajo carvers as well.

Pig by Stanton Hannaweeke – Zuni

Bobcat by Navajo Herbert Davis

To read more about fetishes, see my other blog posts:

Native American Fetish Carvings – What are they used for?

Animal Fetish Powers

Types of Native American Fetishes

Serpentine used in Native American Fetish Carvings

Native American Terms – Fetish, Totem, Amulet, Talisman

How Do I Display Zuni Native American Fetish Carvings?

Native American Fetishes – Zuni Carving Families

The Power of Native American Fetish Carvings – Story of the Midnight Bear

Native American Stone Fetish Carvings – Six Directions

How Zuni Navajo Native American Fetishes Are Made

 

FETISH NECKLACES

Vintage Fetish Necklace – origin unknown

Native American fetish necklaces are made with small fetishes that are drilled and strung like beads with fine shell, turquoise or jet heishi in between. Just like with pocket and table fetishes, fetish necklaces are made by both Navajo and Zuni artists.

AND BEWARE !! There are many NON- Native American fetish necklaces. They are usually made overseas and sold as Native American. BAD !!! Below is a slide show of 3 common imported, faux Native American necklaces. When we get items like this in an estate lot, we sell them in our Bargain Barn.

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Like any Native American item, buy directly from the maker or from a trusted seller.

Navajo horse fetish necklace

 

The animals can vary but often include birds, bears, horses, mountain lions, turtles, foxes, wolves and many others.

Zuni fetish necklace with many animals

The stones and shells usually used include turquoise, mother of pearl, pink shell, acoma jet, serpentine, pipestone and many others.

Navajo Fetish Necklace

Here are some more of my blog posts that relate to fetish necklaces:

What is a stacked necklace? More on Navajo and Zuni Fetish Necklaces

Are these Bird Fetish Necklaces Authentic Native American made?

44 Bird Fetish Necklace – is it Native American made?

Stacked Fetish Necklace – is it authentic Native American made?

Wanted – A Six Directions Fetish Necklace Set

Native American Fetish Necklace – Signed by Artist?

Native American Wearable Art – Stacked Fetish Necklace

Hector Goodluck Monument Valley Fetish Necklace

Native American Fetish Necklace – Mother or Grandmother Necklace

Bird Fetish Necklace from Goodwill

Paula