First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 43

including squash blossom ornaments set between rows of silver beads as well as naja pendants. But the variations between the necklaces are significant, indicating an innovative artist whose flair for design is evident. In the first example, Slender Maker of Silver created a necklace with eight squash blossoms (four per side) culmi- nating in a naja pendant adorned with three turquoise stones. This is a classic design that remains in use in the 21st century. The “squash blossom” design, originally representing a pomegranate fruit, came from Spain, while the naja, a crescent charm, traces its history to the Moors and possibly the ancient Phoenicians, whose riders hung the cres- cents from their horse bridles to protect them against the “evil eye.” Another necklace, attributed as being commissioned by Chee Dodge, shows Slender Maker of Silver’s single row of silver beads giving way to eight double rows of squash blossom embellishments, which project from each side of the rows of beads to create a complex pattern. Like the first example, the pendant includes three turquoise stones. The third example of the master silversmith’s squash-blossom necklaces exhibits the artist’s return to the simpler squash-blossom design, but the pendant created for this work is much more complex. On this necklace, the pendant includes an abstracted figure, with curvi- linear arms outstretched toward the squash blossoms. In each of these necklaces the emphasis is on their silver components. Although turquoise is commonly asso- ciated with Navajo silverwork, Slender Maker of Silver’s limited use is an inter- esting step in the development of Navajo jewelry. Adair notes that the Navajo began to use turquoise set into their silverwork around 1880, but it was not incorporated in considerable quantity until after 1890. Prior to that date, turquoise was procured in limited quantities from the Cerrillos Mining District south of Santa Fe, but turquoise became more readily available when mines in Colorado and Nevada began to export stones to New Mexico and Arizona. Despite the limitations of available turquoise, Slender Maker of Silver made excellent use of the stones SPRING 2019 | 41