What does “snake eye” refer to in Native American jewelry?

I love snake eye jewelry and when I use the term I have found that even long-time Native American jewelry enthusiasts don’t know what I mean.

Snake eye is a technique of setting very small spherical pieces of turquoise. It is somewhat related to petit point and needle point but different in shape and much smaller.

Although these techniques began with Zuni artists around 1930-1940, today they are associated with both Zuni and Navajo jewelers.

All 3 techniques use cabochons, which are small stones that have been rounded on top (not faceted) and polished. It is the shape that differs.

Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words. Some examples……..first of PETIT POINT – teardrop shaped – round on one end, pointed on the  other.

Petit Point stick barrette by Navajo Zeita Begay, contemporary

Petit Point set by Phillip and Virginia Byjoe – Navajo, Vintage

Petit Point Cuff by Johnny Mike Begay, Navajo, Vintage

NOW ON TO NEEDLEPOINT – long and narrow, pointed on both ends.

Needle Point Zuni Bracelet and Ring by EVA L WYACO, contemporary

Needle Point barrette by Nathaniel Nez – Navajo, contemporary

And finally to SNAKE EYE – the reason for this post in the first place. Spherical.  These can range from small to tiny. Here are several examples of snake eye jewelry in various sizes.

Large Snake Eye – Ring by Elanda Wyaco – Zuni, vintage

Medium Snake Eye – Bolo by Bernall Natewa, Zuni, vintage

Tiny Snake Eye – Link bracelet by Stephen Haloo, Zuni, contemporary

So now that you are an expert, what would you call the ones in the photos below?

Paula

 

Libert Peyketewa – Zuni Needlepoint

Needlepoint Set by Libert Peyketewa

Needlepoint Set by Libert Peyketewa

I had a wonderful chat with Libert Peyketewa’s son, Clybert Peyketewa, and here is what he told me, which is somewhat at odds with what is stated in the hallmark books:

“Clybert’s father, the late Libert Peyketewa, was taught needlepoint and silverwork by his father and mother, LaVern Peyketewa and Victoria Amasoila. When Libert married, he taught his wife Carol the stone work while he continued to do the silverwork. After Libert passed away, his wife never remarried and and discontinued the jewelry making. Clybert figures this set was made in the late 1980s.

Libert Peyketewa's hallmark

Libert Peyketewa’s hallmark

“Most Libert Peyketewa sets we’ve seen have only two or maybe three pieces. This is a rare set that has four pieces. Color of necklace, bracelet and earrings matches very well, the ring is a bit more green.

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From page 39 Who's Who in Zuni Jewelry

From page 39 Who’s Who in Zuni Jewelry

Paula

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Petite Squash Blossom Necklace – have you ever seen one?

Hi Paula,

I have a petite squash blossom that I’ve never seen another like it. Measures 12 1/4″ end to end, the naja is 1/2 x 1/2″. How you ever seen one this small? Maker?

Pamela

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Hi Pamela,

I’ve never seen one quite like yours but I’d guess either:

Navajo made OR

Native American style, shop made such as Bell Trading type piece OR

imported (not NA made)

Here is a small Navajo made squash blossom necklace – it is 16 inches long and made with 3 mm beads.

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Miniature Squash Blossom Necklace by Larry Curley

You can see how small it is by the dime in the photo – similar scale to yours I’d think.

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Here is a small Zuni needlepoint squash blossom necklace that is 18″ long and the Naja is 1 1/2″ x 1 1/4″

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Miniature Zuni Needlepoint Squash Blossom Necklace by Lorena Peina

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

N156-SD-squashblossom-turq-150h

Are Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez Zuni or Navajo?

Hi Paula
Could you tell me if Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez, are of the Zuni  tribes ~~  I see they do a lot of petite point and needle point in their work.  My friend say’s they are Navajo, she has a needle point bracelet etched N & R  Nez, which makes me think are they Navajo, but do Zuni style work.  I know this sounds stupid to you, but would really love to know, who told her they were Navajo.
Sincerely Patricia
HI Patricia,
Good question and you are not the first to ask.
Nathaniel and Rosemary Nez are Navajo artists who do petite point and needle point in Zuni style.
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Navajo Needlepoint

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.htmIf 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

WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-B2-400h

Zuni Needlepoint

A Glimpse into the Zuni Needlepoint Workshop

All those tiny little pieces……how does it all get done……here is a peek inside the workshop of Zuni artist Bryant Waatsa, Sr.

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WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-B2-400h WL-343-AB-turq-needle-waatsa-tip-175wExcerpts from Silver & Stone by Mark Bahti

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Native American Tribes – Zuni


Zuni Cluster Pin PendantsZuni is the popular name of a Pueblo Indian tribe that now live in western New Mexico. The word “pueblo” has many meanings and does not refer to a particular tribe. It can mean people, race, nation, town, or village. It is said Zunis are direct descendants of the Anasazi who first inhabited the area 1300 years ago.

The Zuni Indian reservation is about 150 miles west of Albuquerque. It comprises 450,000 acres of land and is surrounded by the Painted Cliffs, the Zuni Mountains and the Cibola National Forest. The largest town on the reservation is Zuni Pueblo.

Zuni Fetish CarvingsThe Zuni speak a unique language, Zunian, and, to this day, maintain a somewhat isolated community life. Religion is of deep significance to Zuni life and many Zuni artifacts relate to religious ceremonies and prayers for rain, fertile soil, abundant harvest and life’s marker event.

Zuni Fetish NecklacesThe Zuni are known for their beautiful hand carved fetishes, jewelry (particularly stone inlay), needlepoint, artwork and pottery.

Navajo or Zuni Grandmother Pin

Native American Grandmother Pin

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Hand made Native American Indian Jewelry; Navajo Sterling Silver  horse pin pendant

When you need a special gift for you Mother, Grandmother, wife or girlfriend, think of a Grandmother Pin.

The Grandmother Pin (also known as a Mother Pin or a Cluster Pin) is a stone cluster pin (or pin-pendant) made by a Navajo or Zuni artist. It is meant to symbolize the matriarch of the family at the center with the family members and their families radiating outward. Traditionally a cluster pin is made of turquoise, but occasionally we will see an all coral or other stone cluster pin.