Charles Loloma Badger Paw Pendant

When this piece arrived in an estate lot several years ago, I fell in love with it immediately – purely for its design and symbolism. I didn’t even look at the back – just thought it was an extraordinary piece.

Then I turned it over…..and………thought………..could it be?

I started googling and soon had a strong feeling this could be a piece by Hopi legend Charles Loloma.

So I wrote to the niece of Charles Loloma, Verma Nequatewa.

Sonwai is the artistic name used by Verma Nequatewa. Verma began working with her uncle, the late Charles Loloma, in the mid-1960’s and continued working with him until his studio closed in the early 1990’s. At that time, she opened her own studio and has been continuing his teachings through her own jewelry.

Here is the reply I received from Bob Rhodes in response to my photos and email to Verma : “The pendant has a tufa-cast back and inlay of turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral and ironwood. It is difficult to see the detail in the photo, so I may have missed something.
The piece represents what Charles called a “Badger Hand.” Charles was Badger clan and this is his concept of a combination of badger paw and human hand. It was most likely made at the Loloma Studio at Hotevilla, AZ in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. At that time he often did not differentiate between turquoise from different mines. He had a wash basin that he put all sorts of turquoise in, then picked pieces out for different colors and shapes. He did only use natural, not treated, turquoise, so some of the stones will “mature” or change color as they are exposed to light, air and skin oils. What you have is a very representational piece of Loloma jewelry of that time period. ”

Well I got goose bumps and thanked them both so much for the thoughtful and detailed reply.

They appreciated the photos as they are collecting as many as they can of Charles Loloma’s pieces.

Charles Loloma (1921-1991) was an active Hopi artist from 1949-1991. He is one of the most innovative and influential Native American artists of his time. He used many techniques including tufa casting, lost wax casting, stone and wood inlay, and cobblestone.

Although he was also a painter and ceramicist, he is most well known for his jewelry.

This badger paw pendant is an example of the high stone-to-stone inlay he became so well-known for.

According to Loloma himself, “I am not versed in the exact date that I started working in jewelry, but my guess is it was in 1947 when I was a student at Alfred University. I was working in pottery and silver.”

In the mid 1950s Loloma moved to Scottsdale, Arizona and began making jewelry in earnest.

The name Loloma translates to “many beautiful colors” which is certainly evident in his work. He broke from the tradition of solely using turquoise and coral by adding unusual stones of bright color as well as fossilized ivory and imported woods such as iron wood.

Much has been written about Charles Loloma – see Southwestern Indian Jewelry, Crafting New Traditions by Dexter Cirillo.

Paula

Navajo Silversmith Roland Dixson

Navajo silversmith and artist Roland Dixson produces traditional sterling silver pieces with excellent stampwork.

Roland Dixson Naja Pendant

Roland Dixson Naja Pendant

Characteristics of his style include scalloped edges with deeply domed centers.

Roland Dixson belt buckle with scalloped edges

Roland Dixson belt buckle with scalloped edges

The stamping is deep, intricate and not repetitive from piece to piece. He also incorporates repousse as evidenced in the photo showing the back of the buckle.

Roland Dixson buckle back showing evidence of repousse

Roland Dixson buckle back showing evidence of repousse

Repousse is a technique whereby metal is hammered into relief from the reverse side.

From the pieces that have come through our store, it appears that Roland Dixson uses only natural, untreated turquoise. Here is his hallmark.

Roland Dixson hallmark

Roland Dixson hallmark

I don’t know much about this artist so if anyone has any biographical information, I’d love to hear it.

Paula

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Lakota Four Winds Pipes

Four Winds

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The Four Winds are evoked in many Lakota ceremonies. The Four Winds are all wakan. Wakan is a Lakota word which represents mysterious powerful beings or spirits.

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The first wind is the WEST, Yata. This is where Wakinyan (the Thunderbird) lives. It is where all animals are created and the West Wind is present when man and animals die. The West Wind is strong and mighty but good natured. It is where the sun goes to rest. The eagle is the akicita (marshall) of the West Wind.

The second wind is the NORTH, Woziya. The tonweyapi of the North are the white owl, raven and wolf. Tonweyapi are aides – they can be marshalls, soldiers, spies or counselors. The North Wind is strong and usually cruel but occasionally jolly. The things he touches grow cold and die. The North Wind decides if the dead people are worthy to pass or wander forever cold, hungry and naked.

The third wind is the EAST, Yanpa. The nighthawk is the tonweyapi of the East. The East Wind sleeps a lot. It is called on to help the sun and the dawn appear. And it gives a place for the moon to regrow. The sun and the moon know and see everything on earth and they tell it to Yanpa. Lodges face east to please Yanpa. The East Wind is evoked by the sick asking for a rest.

The fourth wind is the SOUTH, Okaga. The tonweyapi of the south are waterfowl and the meadowlark. The South wind makes beautiful things, flowers and seeds. It is the giver of life. It is kind and brings good weather. The south is a place where spirits can go after death.

The winds are sometimes at odds with each other over women or other things. Iktomi (spider wakan) purposely stirs up trouble among the Four Winds so he can have fun watching them fight.

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The Hand Symbol in Native American Art

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

The Hand

In Native American art, the hand usually represents the presence of man. From the earliest hand imprints on cave walls, the hand depicts a man’s work, achievements and his personal history.

When a hand had a swirl in the middle of it, that is said to be the “eye in hand” and represents a mystic, or all-seeing, hand, the presence of the Great Spirit in man.

Mystic Hand Pendant

Mystic Hand Pendant

A Native American’s horse was highly honored and often covered in symbols for various purposes. This would vary from tribe to tribe but hand prints were often used in various positions on a horse to mean different things.

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The most prized handprint was when preparing for battle, if it was a kill-or-be-killed mission, an upside-down hand would be placed on the warrior’s horse.

If a horse knocked down an enemy, right and left hand prints were put on the horse’s chest.

The Pat Hand Print was the left hand pressed onto the horse’s right hindquarters. It was put on a horse who had returned from a dangerous mission with his master unharmed.

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Horse Fetish by Carol Martinez, Zuni

Paula

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

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Vintage Bell Trading Co. nickel bracelet.

Silver tone symbol bracelet – could it be a Bell Trading bracelet?

Hi Paula, I am the person who is anxiously awaiting the copper stamped Bell Trading bracelet CSB32.

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I have a question about a piece I have.  It looks exactly like the piece I have purchased except it is nickel silver looking.  It does not have a Bell hallmark, but at one end in the border depression there appear to be 2 “C’s” facing each other like a figure 8.  There also appears to be a copper or brass metal under the silver tone metal finish.  At one tiny place a different color metal can be seen and there is a greenish-blue hue along one edge.  The fact that this piece is the exact replica, except for stamping, of the piece I’ve purchased is intriguing.  Do you have any ideas where I could get more information about it.  Thank you very much.  Dorothy

bracelet 003 bracelet 012Hi Dorothy,

There have been a lot of nickel plated Indian symbol bracelets made since the 1930s.

Yes it is identical to the copper one you purchased from our store which had the Bell trademark stamp on it. And it seems like it could very well be nickel over copper although it is hard to tell from a photo.

As to the hallmark, I am not familiar with it.

Perhaps someone else knows about the CC Figure 8 type stamp and can help.

Paula

Whirling Log Bracelet – What do the Jagged Ovals Mean?

Hi Paula,

I have a silver wrist cuff from my grandmother and I wanted to find out some info about it. I found out about the whirling logs on it, but I’m curious about these ovals with jagged interior edges on them and what they mean. How old would you estimate the cuff to be with the whirling logs? There’s also three turquoise stones on the cuff.
-Kelsey
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Hi Kelsey,
The best way to find out how old something is would be to learn the provenance of the item. The provenance is the back-story, its history, its first known origin.  You ask me and I can guess but you have the best way to find out – your grandmother – or if she is no longer alive, you could ask your grandfather, your parents or a friend who might know when and where your grandmother obtained the bracelet.
Because of the intrigue of the whirling log symbol, some contemporary artists are using it on modern pieces.
Does the bracelet have a hallmark? You didn’t show a photo of the inside of the bracelet. That is often helpful.
As far as the stamp work, often the stamps are design elements, not symbols intended to stand for anything in particular.
The stones look like old style, deep set, smooth bezel.
A very interesting bracelet. It is very shiny so I expect that you have polished it? Otherwise it would have quite a patina on it if it is from pre 1940.
Paula