Southwest Indian Jewelry: Belts and Buckles

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The Navajo (Diné) are a people who have added much beauty to their world and ours. Beauty is a quality they particularly appreciate; it is a repeated theme in their songs, ceremonies and in their rugs and jewelry. The Diné lifestyle and arts are those of a nomadic culture. They depend heavily on the horse, and lavish their creative talents in weavings and silverwork on their animals. 

The concho or concha belt is an example of a foreign item adopted and adapted by the Navajo. It may have originated with the Mexican silver concha bridle or, more likely, from the German silver hair drops worn by Plains Indians. In either event, the Navajo made it an item of beauty for their own use and an item by which they could fashion their wealth in silver and wear it for protection. There were no safe deposit boxes for storage, so carrying one's wealth was necessary. 

The Navajo are best known for production of concha belts, but pueblo silversmiths also made them. Joe Quintana and Silviano Quintana are known to have made them—some signed and others not.