Navajo Sandcast Squash Blossom Necklace

Hi Paula,

This is one piece of Native American jewelry my parents purchased from a dealer friend in Tampa back in the early 70s. I’ve been searching for days online and can’t find one just like this. I did find out that the marking on the back N.TSO indicates it was made by Nellie Tso, but can’t find out anything about her.

I think it was made for a woman, but could be unisex. It’s 25″ in length (including the traditional clasp). The naja is 2-1/2″ wide and 2-10/16″ long. The blossoms, which I think may be sunflowers and are the unusual part of the necklace, are 1-1/2″ long and are attached to double bead strands. The weight is about 320g.

If you have seen one like this or know anything about the artist. Thanks for any help. Marta C.

Vintage Sandcast Squash Blossom Necklace

Hi Marta,

That is a unique and heavy sandcast……… squash blossom necklace ! I like it – it has a very pretty and unique design. It is hard for me to tell definitely from the photo but it seems to me that those are meant to be squash blossom flowers – if you have ever had a garden, you know what I mean – they are round and look like that.

Here is an example from our pawn shop of that type of squash blossom flower. But note, the example I am providing below is not sandcast like your necklace is – but the flowers are very similar, aren’t they?

Vintage Navajo Squash Blossom Flower on Necklace

Again, a guess from the photo – perhaps the pieces that project from the flowers are intended to be corn plants with corn leaves on each side. It looks like there is some texturing like kernels of corn. Is that so?

Corn, squash and beans are the traditional mainstays of the southwestern diet, culture and symbolism are are used in many ways in art and ceremony.

Corn, Beans and Squash : Pueblo Diet

Nellie Tso, a Navajo, was a silversmith for the Atkinson Trading Company around 1980. She specialized in sand cast watchbands. The hallmark you describe is one of four ways she has used to sign her work.

I hope this has been helpful. Enjoy your beautiful necklace !

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Native American Symbols – Corn

My eyes some times play tricks on me. When I first read the post about Man in the Maze, I thought it said, “Man in the Maize,” and read with interest, looking for the connection with corn. It is a beautiful symbol, and I never knew before what it meant.

Is corn also used as a symbol in jewelry or art by native Americans?

Kathleen

Hello Kathleen,

There is much written about corn as a part of Native American life. This is a very brief overview.

Corn is the symbol of sustenance, the staff of life and is an important symbol of many tribes. Corn is considered a gift from the Great Spirit so its role is both as a food and a ceremonial object.

Hand carved Corn Pendant and Earrings by Lonny Cloud

Hand carved Corn Pendant and Earrings by Lonny Cloud

Very notably, corn is connected to the Hopi for their skill in being able to raise corn in desert sand.

Corn Maiden Kachina

Corn Maiden Kachina

Corn Pollen is a blessing given for protection, understanding and forgiveness. It is used along with prayers, in house blessings, and to bless people by placing pollen on top of the head.

Cornmeal, usually made from perfect ears of white corn, is considered sacred and is used to bless and nurture sacred objects such as fetishes.

Native American Fetish Carvings

Native American Fetish Carvings

The corn maiden gives of her own body to feed her family and provides seeds which ensure a continued source of food.

Corn Maiden Fetish Carving from Picasso Marble

Corn Maiden Fetish Carving from Picasso Marble