Sterling Silver Salt Spoon and Blackware Pottery Bowl Salt Cellar by Kenneth Begay and Rose Gonzales [SOLD]

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Kenneth Begay, Navajo Nation Jewelry
  • Category: Silverware - Flatware
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Spoon: Sterling Silver; Bowl: clay
  • Size: Bowl: 1” x 2-½”;
    Spoon: 2-¼” long x 1⁄2” wide
  • Item # 26194
  • SOLD

Kenneth Begay and Rose Gonzales are two names that need no introduction in the Native American art community. The expert craftsmanship of these two legendary Native American artists comes together in this salt cellar and spoon set. An elegant small salt spoon, hand crafted by Kenneth Begay is paired with a  small blackware bowl fashioned by San Ildefonso artist Rose Gonzales. 

The spoon reflects the distinctive style of the White Hogan where Begay worked. Elegant details characteristic of Begay’s work— swirling lines etched on perfectly shaped silver make this delicate small spoon not only beautiful, but the construction of the spoon with small holes on the bottom for the dispersal of salt makes it totally utilitarian. It is an object of beauty that is made to be used. 

The diminutive spoon is paired with a miniature classic polished black bowl by Rose Gonzales. Rose was known for her gracefully shaped and polished bowls. This small bowl—only 2-½” in diameter—was made to hold salt. It is the perfect compliment to Begay’s charming little spoon. 

Originally from Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan) Pueblo, Rose learned to make pottery in the 1920s from her mother-in-law, and during the 1930s and 1940s she traded pottery to feed her large family. She was the recipient of many awards from Santa Fe Indian Market and Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial. 

An article from the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit Totems to Turquoise states: “Kenneth Begay (1913–1977) was called the "father of modern Navajo jewelry" for his clean, bold, modern designs. But he also exemplifies the long history and continuity of Navajo jewelry-making: Begay studied under Fred Peshlakai, who had been taught by his father, Slender Maker of Silver, who was trained by Atsidi Chon, one of the earliest Navajo silversmiths. Begay in turn taught many others including his son, Harvey, now a renowned jeweler. 

Although deeply rooted in traditional jewelry-making techniques, Begay's work was so innovative that it was rejected from a 1949 exhibition of Native art as too radical. Although he used and taught the old techniques, Begay explained near the end of his life, "I like to create something new and still use the old Navajo design style."

Begay’s elegant, modern style called “Navajo Modernism” had its roots at the White Hogan Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona beginning in the 1950s. The gallery was owned and operated by Virginia and John Bonnell. The Bonnells hired innovative artists who developed a unique look characterized by smooth, clean lines, influenced by the work of Georg Jensen and Danish Modernism. The work has a sleek, sensuous appeal. Artists blended traditional Navajo designs into their work creating a distinctive look that continues to influence Diné jewelers today. As the creation of jewelry associated with White Hogan Gallery required great skill, only the very best artists worked there. 

Artist Hallmark - Kenneth Begay, Navajo Nation JewelryThe work of these two legendary artists has been joined together—creating a lovely, utilitarian set of pottery and silver. The spoon is signed with Begay’s White Hogan hallmark and the Bowl is signed with Rose’s signature. 


Condition: both the Sterling Silver Salt Spoon and Blackware Pottery Bowl Salt Cellar by Kenneth Begay and Rose Gonzales are in excellent condition

Provenance: from a Santa Fe collector

Recommended Reading: Southwestern Indian Jewelry by Dexter Cirillo

Relative Links: Ohkay Owingeh - San Juan PuebloSan Ildefonso PuebloMarie Gonzales YazziepotteryRamona Sanchez GonzalesTonita RoybalTse-PéRose Cata Gonzales, Navajo NationSouthwest Indian JewelryKenneth Begay

Close up view of the silver spoon.

Kenneth Begay, Navajo Nation Jewelry
  • Category: Silverware - Flatware
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Spoon: Sterling Silver; Bowl: clay
  • Size: Bowl: 1” x 2-½”;
    Spoon: 2-¼” long x 1⁄2” wide
  • Item # 26194
  • SOLD

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