Mountain and Mesa Designs

This page from American Indian Design and Decoration by Le Roy H. Appleton shows some interesting design interpretations. Many of them relate to pottery, baskets, rugs and figures/statues. But we do see some carryover into Native American jewelry.

We often see the clouds, rain and lightning stamped on jewelry and inlaid into jewelry and fetishes.

The abstract step like designs are often called blanket patterns or mesas but here the steps are used as part of birds and exit trail of life.

Do you have any of these symbols on your jewelry?

design 001Following are :

BIRDS – Note they have similar types of heads but one bird’s body is comprised of steps.

CORN – A general design that could be used in weaving and beading.

EXIT TRAIL OF LIFE – Note that there is a break in the line above the design. This is the exit. Pottery and other handmade items are thought to be beings so it is with great respect that an exit is always left by the artist for the being. The line around a pot, for example, is never continuous.

CLOUD SERPENTS – Could these be Ancient Aliens?

birds

corn

exit

cloud serpents

cover 001

While metal detecting found a vintage Boy Scout Badge or Native American pin?

Hi Paula,

I have been trying to see what this item is and thought it was a boy scout pin of some kind.  I found it while metal detecting near a spot here in Illinois where a pool had been in the early 1900’s.  It was pretty deep, leading me to think it has been lost for a long time, but you never know.

 It appears to be all silver because it was not tarnished in the least, is about 1.5 inches across the top.  The back is plain except for two loops that appear to be soldered on.  One is open to receive a pin, and the other appears to have held a pin that has corroded away.  My guess is the pin was not stiff and was intended to be inserted and then fed into the loop.  Does not seem like a good design, but that is all I can figure out.  No markings other than the symbols on the front.

I posted on a metal detecting site and asked if anyone knew what it was.  One person suggested it might be actually native american or trade silver.  The other suggested it might be an old scout “order of the arrow” award or honor.

Since you specialize in similar new native american items, I thought I would take a shot to ask if you had any clue.

Thanks

Frank

Hi Frank,

I can see why you might think this might be a vintage Boy Scout badge. It almost looks like something one might wear over the top button of a shirt with a collar. Or on a pocket flap.

To me it is reminiscent of Fred Harvey era Native American items such as were sold at Bell Trading Post.

Fred Harvey was an entrepreneur who created an avenue for Indians to make and sell jewelry to the tourists. Jewelry of the Fred Harvey era has typical Indian kitsch of arrows, tomahawks, tipis, thunderbirds and so on and was most produced from 1930 throughout the 1950s. Read more about Fred Harvey here.

The very symbols on your piece (crossed arrows and rain clouds with rain) were quite common on jewelry from that era.

Have you tested it for sterling silver or silver to verify?  Cool piece.

Maybe another reader will leave a comment here if they have seen something similar.

 

UPDATE JUNE 28, 2011

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS OF THE BACK OF THE PIN TO SHOW SCALE AND TOOL MARKS.

 

 

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