Kewa Pueblo Three Strand Turquoise Nugget and White Shell Necklace [SOLD]


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Jeweler Unknown

Pueblo Wrap

This style of necklace is centuries old. Archaeologists discovered caches of turquoise and shell necklaces at Chaco Canyon, evidence that the ancestors of today's Pueblo people were using turquoise nuggets and shell as items of adornment over one thousand years ago.  And from the earliest of times, turquoise has been favored by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest. They mined it at Cerrillos, about 30 miles south of Santa Fe, for centuries. Turquoise had religious, ceremonial, superstitious and economic values to the Pueblo Indians.

Bits of turquoise were put in bearing beams of buildings to strengthen them, offerings of turquoise were made at sacred shrines, medicine men used it in diagnostic and healing rituals, and it was often used in burials. It is a unique sign of wealth and is seen in abundance at ceremonial dances at the pueblos of New Mexico.  Hieshe, made from seashells, such as used in this necklace, is constructed in a most interesting manner. The shell is cut into small pieces, drilled and strung on cotton string, then slowly and meticulously rolled over sandstone until each piece is round and all the pieces are of the same diameter or graduated diameter, if desired. Cotton is used because it is softer and doesn’t wear against the shell too abrasively. The turquoise tabs that are added to such a hieshe necklace are drilled, often off center, and strung with the hieshe to form an interesting necklace.

This necklace has the traditional pair of jaclas suspended from the bottom of the necklace.  Jaclas were originally made and worn as earrings but eventually were added to the nugget necklaces in the manner shown here.  The part of the necklace that is in the back of the neck is wrapped in cotton thread in what is known as a “pueblo wrap.” It perhaps was intended to be removed and replaced when it became soiled.

Throughout this three strand necklace are nuggets of various types of turquoise and shell beads. Both the turquoise and shell are of vastly different sizes, shapes and colors creating an amazing assemblage where it provides a different appeal every time it is viewed. Some nuggets are small and perfectly shaped, some are large, natural stones which have simply been drilled with a hole. Some of the turquoise beads look as if they could have been repurposed from earlier necklaces.  The necklace has been recently re-wrapped in the Pueblo style.

Condition: The Santo Domingo Pueblo Three Strand Turquoise Nugget and White Shell Necklace is in excellent condition

Provenance: From a Colorado gentleman’s Southwest Indian Jewelry collection

Recommended Reading: Indian Jewelry of the American Southwest by Sarah Peabody and William Turnbaugh

Relative Links: necklaceSanto Domingo PuebloSouthwest Indian Jewelry

Close up view of the necklace.


Jeweler Unknown
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