Bracelet from the sale basket at the Heard Museum

April 28, 2014

Hello Paula,

About ten years ago (or perhaps a few years more than that) I purchased a silver bracelet from the “sale” basket at the Heard Museum. It was an old piece that I have come to love and for which I often receive compliments.

The piece had no visible identifying markings – until recently when the piece of turquoise fell out to show an engraved floral design at the base of the 2×3 cm oval that encased the stone. This is something that I had never seen and thought perhaps it could help provide information about the piece and who made it and increase my connection to the bracelet

The bracelet itself is fashioned from three double strands of open braided “rope” with the rough piece of turquoise set in the middle. On each side of the bracelet on top of the “rope” is a right facing arrow below that is a right facing eagle. There is a hammered finish to the entire piece.

Pictures are available of course. Can you help?  Thanks so much.

Jennifer

Bezel Front Inside_Back Side_1 Side_2Hi Jennifer,

First of all, thank you for your patience. This is the last question from April – I am trying to get caught up!

Second and more importantly, what a great bracelet ! I can see why you bought it !

For those not familiar with Heard Museum, you can read about it here.

About all I can say about your bracelet Jennifer is that it does show:

whirling logs

Thunderbird 

(and here’s another article about Thunderbird)

handmade arrows and a beautiful Turquoise stone.

As far as the pattern underneath the stone, rather than a hallmark, I think it is more an indication of re-purposing a piece of silver that had been used or started for another project.

Perhaps other readers have comments.

Paula

To view our full list of article or to ask a jewelry question, follow the instructions here
http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

If you are selling your jewelry, read this
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping
http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

BST478-bell-arrowhead-nickel-turq-1

Vintage Bell Trading Co. nickel bracelet.

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

Native American Terms – Fetish, Totem, Amulet, Talisman

Paula,
I wondered why in your web store you describe some Indian animal carvings and jewelry pieces as fetishes and others amulets or totems. Are they all the same thing? – Stuart

Stuart,
The terms fetish, amulet, totem and talisman are often used interchangeably to describe an object that provides good fortune and protects from evil. The exact meaning of any of these terms depend on the culture and location in which it is used. Briefly, here is how I see them:

Talisman

Alaskan Thunderbird Talisman by David Audette from Sitka, Alaska

A talisman is an object that is considered to possess supernatural or magical powers and is used especially to avert evils, disease, or death. A talisman is typically engraved or cut with figures or characters, constellations, planets, or other heavenly signs. It is often worn as an amulet or charm. From the Greek word “telein”, which means “to initiate into the mysteries”. The word talisman is often used synonymous with amulet.

Amulet

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Lucky Horseshoe Amulet by Navajo artist Wilbur Muskett Jr.

An amulet is a protecting charm – any object worn to bring good luck and to ward off evil, illness, and harm from supernatural powers and from other people. Amulets are typically carvings, stones (especially with naturally occurring holes), plants (such as sage, 4-leaf clover, shamrock), coins, and jewelry (crosses, horseshoes, gemstones).

Totem

Horse Totem on Horse Spirit Medicine Bag by Apache artist Cynthia Whitehawk

A totem is an object that symbolizes a person’s or a tribe’s animal guide. This could be a totem pole, an emblem or a small figurine or carving. Native American tradition holds that different animal guides come in and out of a person’s life depending on the direction that person is headed and the challenges he faces. A totem animal is the one animal that acts as the main guardian spirit and is with a person for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Traditionally, it is the totem animal, such as an eagle, wolf, bear, horse or dragonfly, that finds the person, not the other way around.

Fetish

Bear Fetish by Zuni artist Emery Eriacho

A fetish is a sacred object used in religious ceremonies, for spiritual awakening and to communicate with and direct supernatural powers. A fetish can provide protection, promote healing and ensure success in ventures such as hunting or farming. A Native American fetish is most often a carving, usually of an animal, that has some sort of power, and is sometimes decorated with stones, shells, and feathers. A carving without power is merely a carving. A person’s own beliefs determine the difference between a fetish and a carving.

So, whether an object is a talisman, totem, amulet or fetish is up to you. Just as the beauty of an object is in the eye of the beholder, so the power of an object is in the belief of the seer or wearer.

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Vintage Native American Thunderbird Pin Wanted

Dear Paula,
Is it possible to get another thunderbird like the vintage P133?  the new thunderbirds do not look like this one.  Thank you very much.
Navajo
Sterling Silver Vintage Thunderbird Pendant #P133

John

Dear John,

Thanks for writing. The items in our pawn shop are older items and we get them in, usually in a lot such as from somebody’s collection or an estate lot, so there would be no way of predicting when we might get something similar to that Thunderbird pendant in. It looks a little more Pacific Northwest to me rather than Southwest.

You could keep an eye on our NEW page which is where we list something new each day – and that means pawn items as well as new contemporary.
I’ve just listed a few new Thunderbirds which I think you might like……….

These wonderful old style pins are made from heavy gauge sterling silver plate; hand cut, deeply hand-stamped, smoothed and polished leaving some areas intentionally oxidized or darkened. A polished turquoise stone is set in a handcut smooth bezel. A twisted sterling silver rope encircles the bezel. Albert Cleveland typically uses King Manassas turquoise, known for its brilliant greens with gold or brown matrix. They have a locking pin finding. Very retro.

Albert Cleveland is of the Dashchanii clan and was born on the Navajo reservation near Mt. Taylor. He and his wife live near Gallup, New Mexico. His brother is Bobby Cleveland and his parents Etta and Philip Cleveland. Cleveland signs his pieces AC if he works on them alone or AJC when his wife Jacqualine works with him. Albert Cleveland works in a retro style, reminiscent of the 1940’s curio shop work which featured Native American symbols such as Eagles, Thunderbirds, Bears, Waterbirds and other animals.


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Native American Symbol – Thunderbird

I was appreciating your art pictures and comments on the symbology, just wondering if you know of more about the Thunderbird symbol.
Thanks for sharing!
Colleen

Legend of the Thunderbird

The Native American Thunderbird legend has been recorded through drawings, cave paintings, oral history, totem poles, and as a design element in many Native American artifacts and pieces of art for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Whether the symbol is specific to the Pacific Northwest Tribes and Plains Indians or is a cross-tribal symbol is debated.

At least 3 tribes have words for Thunderbird:

(From Wikipedia)

“The Thunderbird’s name comes from the common belief that the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and stirs the wind. The Lakota name for the Thunderbird is Wakį́yą, a word formed from kįyą́, meaning “winged”, and wakhą́, “sacred”. The Kwakwaka’wakw have many names for the Thunderbird and the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) called him Kw-Uhnx-Wa. The Ojibwa word for a thunderbird that is closely associated with thunder is animikii, while large thunderous birds are known as binesi.”

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Now whether the legend was borne from the sighting of a very large prehistoric bird or whether it is completely mythological is also unclear.

There have been some claimed sightings of large Thunderbirds in this century.

But some things seem to be common in all accounts of the Thunderbird legend.

The Thunderbird is large – his wing feathers are said to be 5 feet long giving the bird a wingspan (tip to tip) of 12 feet or more. Some reports say up to a 20 feet wingspan.

The Thunderbird is said to be involved in whipping up weather – thunderstorms, rain, wind, hail, snow and tornados and is capable of flashing lightning from its eyes.

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Excellent articles:

Thunderbird and Trickster by Steve Mizrach

Quillayute and the Thunderbird

Native American Symbols – Water Bird, Peyote Bird, Thunderbird

Native American Symbols

Water Bird, Peyote Bird, Thunderbird

©  2010 Horsekeeping © Copyright Information

The Water Bird is a symbol of the renewal of life, rainy seasons, rivers, distant travel, distant vision & wisdom. It is often also referred to as the Peyote Bird because the Water Bird plays a significant part in the Native American Indian Church Peyote meetings and, in fact, since the early 1900’s has been the symbol of the NAC.

Peyote Bird

Peyote Bird

The Peyote/Water Bird is not a Southwest tradition, but one of the Plains Indians. The Peyote Bird is connected with lightning, thunder and visions. Those who dream of the thunder beings will become Heyokas, those who do things backwards, upside down, or opposite. This is a Lakota way of being. It is part of the medicine of the Heyoka to remind us that we should not take ourselves too seriously – that’s why Heyoka is often translated as the “sacred clown”.

Peyote - Water Bird

Peyote - Water Bird

The Thunderbird is a cross-cultural symbol of the Southwest, Plains and Pacific Northwest tribes as well as in the non-Native world. Much is written about the origin of the symbol and its significance. It has been suggested by some that the symbol was borrowed by Native American artisans from the white man’s medal dies. Others claim the Thunderbird has always lived in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. There, carved totem poles are often topped with a Thunderbird with outstretched wings. Looking at a Thunderbird, it is easy to see why it symbolizes power, strength and nobility.

Zuni Inlay Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Randolph Lateyice

Zuni Inlay Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Randolph Lateyice

Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Zuni Rose Tekela

Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Zuni Rose Tekela

Zuni Inlay Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Leagus Ahiyite

Zuni Inlay Thunderbird Pin Pendant by Leagus Ahiyite

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