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Native American Jewelry – Tribal Differences in Design The Zuni and the Hopi

Native American jewelry is renowned worldwide for its beauty and symbolism, and each Native American nation has its own unique design, meaning and style. Today we focus on the authentic traditional designs of the Hopi and the Zuni…

Hopi JewelryThe Hopi have long been known for their distinctive silver overlay style of jewelry, alongside crafting such as Katsina carvings, weaving, and coiled basket making.

Until the end of World War II, Hopi jewelry was basically indistinguishable from Navajo jewelry, as they originally learned the art of silversmithing from the Navajo. Additionally, prior to the 1930s, the Hopi had limited access to silver, and as such, their jewelry to then was based on wood, shell, bone, seeds, and stones including turquoise.

At the end of WWII, the Hopi silver cooperative was formed to distinguish Hopi silver from that of other tribes. It was at this time that their distinctive overlay style was developed, and the cooperative trained silversmiths in the art.  Two pieces of silver were taken; the top layer was carved or stippled with traditional Hopi designs, while the base layer was oxidized to turn black. The silversmith then fused the two layers together.

Most Hopi jewelry is silver alone, however, they also incorporated turquoise and other stones into special pieces to symbolize wealth and good fortune. Turquoise has been used by the Hopi for more than two thousand years. Traditional Hopi homes had bags of turquoise hung to ward off evil and hunters and warriors carried it in a pouch worn around the neck for good luck and protection.

Zuni Jewelry – The Zuni have been creating inlay jewelry as well as petit point, needle point, and animal-themed stone fetish work for more than one thousand years. Unlike the designs of the Navajo which uses larger stones, the Zuni favour stones that are meticulously and intricately cut and polished. Navajo influence since 1872 has led to the use of silver by the Zuni.

The traditionally Zuni used fetishes, or small stone figurines, for power, protection and luck. An animal spirit is believed to reside in each fetish, and these are used as decorative objects or incorporated into jewelry. Each animal has its own significance. Zuni fetishes are made from everything from turquoise to jet, malachite, jasper, amber, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, bone, fossilized ivory, deer antlers, and many more materials. Animals included wolf, badger, ram, eagle, frog, bear, mountain lion, and many more. They also crafted horse fetishes for trade with Northern tribes who used these to protect their herds.

Indian Traders specializes in Native American jewelry of the American Indians of the Southwest.

Support local native artisans and keep their traditions and culture alive by visiting our online store at Indian Traders today! We also have a vast array of authentic Pendleton blanketsand much more.