First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 45

that around 1870 a Navajo silversmith known as Atsidi Chon (Ugly Smith) set up a forge at Zuni. Although secretive about the process at first, Atsidi Chon eventually taught the craft to La:niyadhi, who then shared what he had learned with Ba:lawahdiwa (Zuni), governor of the pueblo, who then taught other Zuni men. In 1898 La:niyadhi traveled to the Hopi village of Sichomovi where he taught the craft to his friend Sikyatala, who in turn taught Tawahongniwa, a leader from Shungopavi on Second Mesa, how to work silver. 7 Jewelry produced at Zuni in the early 20th century is easily distinguish- able from the work of Navajo silversmiths, because Zuni artists often used large quantities of turquoise stones in their jewelry. These stones were not the large cabochons that Fred Peshlakai would eventually use in the mid-20th century; instead, Zuni artists cut and polished small, well-selected stones into the shapes of teardrops, spheres, and ovals, as seen in a Zuni bracelet from about 1935. In this bracelet the turquoise takes center stage, while a delicate silver rope pattern offsets the radiating composition of the stones. So while the Zuni learned from the Navajo and the Hopi had learned from the Zuni, silversmithing at other pueblos, including Acoma, Laguna, Isleta, Kewa, and Santa Clara appears to have developed independently of Navajo silver. Rather than learning the craft from Navajos, these Pueblo silver- smiths learned through contact with Spanish-Mexican jewelers in Valencia and Bernalillo Counties. 8 Like the early Navajo silversmiths, Pueblo artists created squash-blossom necklaces. Comparing a necklace attributed to a silversmith from Isleta Pueblo you’ll find it notably distinguishable from necklaces produced by Slender Maker of Silver. In scale, the Isleta example is smaller, but there are also important design differences. Although the Isleta silversmith included squash-blossom embellishments, he also added turquoise inlaid silver drops with scalloped edges and set the naja’s round 7. Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, “Silversmithing Reaches the Pueblos,” exhibition text panel. 8. Wheelwright, "Silversmithing Reaches the Pueblos." SPRING 2019 | 43