Diné Silver and Turquoise Squash Blossom Navajo Pearls Necklace

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Jeweler Unknown

A simple hook and look keeps this necklace secure.

There are fifty sterling silver handmade beads in this spectacular Navajo squash blossom necklace.  The five beads at the ends of the necklace are smaller than the remaining forty beads of the main section.  This is standard practice to make the necklace comfortable on the back of the neck. The silver beads are the style referred to as “Navajo Pearls”— a little hemispherical but almost round.

The naja is cast silver and has a sweeping curve with ends reaching out into a three-pronged spread.  Suspended from the top of the naja is a large oval sky blue turquoise cabochon with a dark matrix. It is anchored in a silver bezel and repeats the three-pronged spread.  Ten silver beads with long blossoms provide a delicate balance to a heavier naja.Each of the ten "squash blossoms" was made in the same style and same diameter as the beads on the necklace. Each blossom stem measures 5/8-inch long. The blossoms have been called "squash blossoms" but they were actually based on "pomegranate blossoms" as seen on the pants of Mexican men. Somehow, they got mis-identified when they appeared on Diné necklaces.

The naja measures 2-¾ x 2-¼ inch. Navajo-made jewelry also contained other elements that were borrowed directly from Spanish colonial and Mexican ornament. One of these items is the naja, a crescent form of Moorish origin. The Spanish conquerors in the Southwest outfitted their horses with elaborate silver ornaments, one of which was the naja that hung directly on the forehead of the horse as a part of the bridle. The Fleur de lis on this naja is another borrowed element: a stylized lily composed of three petals bound together near their bases, known from the former royal arms of France, in which it appears in gold on a blue field.

Borrowing elements from the Moors, French, Spanish and Mexican cultures, when put together under the artistic talent of the Diné, results in an item of jewelry that is uniquely Diné.

The necklace is unsigned with the name of the artisan and was probably made in the mid-twentieth century when many items of jewelry were traditionally unsigned.

Waht is a Naja? Early Navajo-made jewelry contained elements that were borrowed directly from Spanish colonial and Mexican ornament. One of these items is the naja, a crescent form of Moorish origin. The Spanish conquerors in the Southwest outfitted their horses in elaborate silver ornaments—one of which was the naja that hung directly on the forehead of the horse as a part of the bridle.

Condition: this Diné Silver and Turquoise Squash Blossom Navajo Pearls Necklace is in very good condition

Provenance: from the collection of a gentleman from Colorado

Recommended Reading: The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths by John Adair

Relative Links: Southwest Indian JewelryNavajonecklace

The naja is cast silver and has a sweeping curve with ends reaching out into a three-pronged spread.  Suspended from the top of the naja is a large oval sky blue turquoise cabochon with a dark matrix.  It is anchored in a silver bezel and repeats the three-pronged spread.


Jeweler Unknown
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