This vintage turquoise squashblossom necklace is exquisite, classic yet unique Zuni. The classic part is that it is not weighty--most Zuni squashblossom necklaces are not--yet with such stand-out craftsmanship that it hits home the adage "quality over quantity." Zuni petit point is tedious and exacting, with each one of those small pieces of turquoise. Which brings us to the unique. In this case, the artist used high grade, natural creamy Sleeping Beauty, hand cut and shaped to fit the handmade sawtooth bezels. Gem grade turquoise is so hard that it doesn't crumble when cut into these small shapes. And we also know it's natural for the color change, especially in the naja, which is not surprising as that naja is unlike any I've seen before. And we would expect that deepening of the blue, and in some stones even a greening, as this naja with the smooth creamy turquoise really does feel in one's fingers like the talisman that the crescent shaped symbol represents. From historian Arthur Woodward in “Navajo Silver, A brief history of Navajo Silversmithing”: “This emblem was old when Columbus crossed the ocean to the new world. It was wide spread from Africa to Serbia. In short, it was an Old World amulet fastened to horse trappings, preferably the bridle, to ward off the evil eye from the animal. These crescent shaped amulets were made of two boars tusks joined together or fashioned out of brass, iron, silver, gold, or bronze. The Romans had them, so did the Moors. The bridle trappings of the conquistadors no doubt carried these same traditional ornaments. The Naja, a talisman used on the browband of Moorish Horses, is thought to have been handed down from the Spanish Moors to Spanish caballeros in Mexico. It is unclear whether the Navajo adopted the crescent directly from the Spanish or from the Plains Indians where the symbol first appeared in North America." The word Naja (pronounced na-ha, also najahe and názhah in the Navajo language) means “crescent shape” or “curve.” And this one has a crown atop, repeating the crescent shape, plus repeating curves made of twist wire on the interior of the naja, pointing back at the larger crescent. This is truly a naja for the ages, The 12 squashblossoms, six up each side, have less color change in the turquoise color, so it displays more of the classic pale blue of Sleeping Beauty.
From a website about this highly collectible stone: "The Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Mine located in Globe, Arizona is considered to be one of the most important American Turquoise mines in the world...Today, every person who has been to the Southwest or lives in the Southwest knows the name Sleeping Beauty Turquoise and exactly what it looks like. Sleeping Beauty Turquoise is revered due to its pure sky blue color which shows very little to no veining or webbing. The highly sought after stone has made a tremendous impact on the history of Turquoise over the years. For this reason, and the fact that the Arizona Turquoise Mine is closed...the Turquoise has jumped in value, and is now selling for prices similar to it's high grade counterparts from Nevada, USA. It’s pure color and natural strength make Sleeping Beauty Turquoise characteristics a favorite for jewelry makers and artists around the world. It is one of the most prized forms of turquoise for jewelry and adornment and is often stable enough to be polished and used for turquoise jewelry without any treatment or stabilization."
Although this squash blossom necklace is not weighty, it is on the long side. It measures 29-1/2" tip to tip, versus the more standard 26", and hangs to about 14" depending on the girth of your neck. The naja measures 2-3/8" across and 3" tall. Total weight is 125g. The piece is in excellent vintage condition, with all stones well seated.
A fabulous treasure to pass on for generations.
Note that due to lighting plus monitor settings for brightness, contrast and other factors, there may be differences in the colors and tones of photos versus that of the actual item. Please message with questions and I will respond as soon as possible.
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