Diné Sterling Silver Wide Bracelet with Conchos Design by Mark Chee

C4370A-bracelet.jpg

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Mark Chee, Diné Silversmith
  • Category: Bracelets
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: sterling silver
  • Size:
    1” opening; 1-½” wide;
    Size 6-½
  • Item # C4370A
  • Price: $3,250.00

This silver bracelet by Mark Chee, a Diné artist of the Navajo Nation, features a design of three conchas on the top, each of which is slightly domed and separated from its neighbor by V and inverted V elements. The bracelet ends are filled with stamped designs, mostly curves.  The edges are narrow bands of impressed parallel lines.

Mark Chee’s hallmark Thunderbird with his name over the bird’s body and he stamps his name as ChEE.The bracelet is stamped with Chee’s hallmark Thunderbird with his name over the bird’s body. His name is stamped as ChEE.

Mark Chee (1914-1981) “was born in Lukachukai, Arizona, and educated in the Indian school system.  By the age of twenty, he was working as a silversmith in Santa Fe for Julius Gans at Southwest Arts and Crafts.  Chee enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served in the Air Force (sic) during the war. Returning to Santa Fe in 1946, he married a woman from San Juan Pueblo where they made their home.

“At this time, Chee was employed by Al Packard at Chaparral Trading Post in Santa Fe, and he worked in the shop for many years, likely until the early 1960s.  He was recognized as one of the most skilled Navajo silversmiths working at that time.  He won many awards for jewelry and especially for his sets of handmade silver flatware.  A single table service required at least a month of work and was usually accomplished between the time he was making jewelry for orders or for sale in the shop.

“It was reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper in 1958 that Chee made his own tools and only utilized the modern implements of torch, electric buffer, and silver saws.  He worked in all techniques of silverwork including overlay, inlay, and hand-stamping, but is best known for his very heavy-gauge bracelets set with high-quality turquoise stones.  His most recognized bracelets consist of either heavy solid bands with deep chisel work or split-shank cuffs with turquoise stones set between massive carinated bands.  Chee signed his work using a right-facing thunderbird with his last name in the body of the bird.  He worked into the late 1970s and passed away in August 1981 after a lengthy illness.”

Condition: very good condition 

Provenance: this Diné Sterling Silver Wide Bracelet with Conchos Design by Mark Chee is from the collection of a gentleman from Santa Fe

Reference: all quoted biographical information is courtesy of Reassessing Hallmarks of Native Southwest Jewelry—Artists, Traders, Guilds, and the Government by Pat Messier & Kim Messier, Schiffer Publishing, 2014:107

Recommended Reading:

- Southwest Indian Silver from the Doneghy Collection by Louise Lincoln

- Indian Silver Jewelry of the Southwest 1868-1930 by Larry Frank and Millard J. Holbrook

- The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths by John Adair

Alternate SIDE View of this silver braelet.