This vintage Ketoh (pronounced gato) or bow guard is completely unusual and dare I say, one of a kind. Well worn, which we know by the dings and scuffs on the thick leather and the wear on the leather strap that goes into the buckle. This is how you can tell this was NOT a piece made then set aside but rather, with the Navajo Nation about two hours away, plus eight Pueblos surrounding us, chances are good this piece was worn for the use intended--to protect the wearer from the pull of the bow string and arrow, and/or for ceremonial dances and Feast Days. The silver is not sterling but rather German silver, which has little to no sterling silver content. What really stands out is the use of coral in the center rectangular cabochon as well as the bamboo coral beads flanking the silver shield on each side. Even though it is not sterling silver, it is a valuable piece, as an authentic bow guard.
The very first ketohs were made from hide, then silver. This, from an article: "The first ketohs with silver were made as early as the mid to late 1800’s during the first phase of Navajo silversmithing. The silver for these pieces was generally made from melted coins and would be cast in a two-piece mold. They would then be taken from the mold, hammered into shape, and sanded until smooth. A cold chisel and stamps were used for the earliest designs, and after the 1880’s ketohs saw the addition of bezels with turquoise and other stones. The turquoise pieces for ketohs were sometimes taken from earlier tab necklaces or earrings. Later ketohs developed more complex design motifs and techniques."
This particular ketoh carries a design commonly found on bow guards (see this article for an example of about four ketohs with variations on the design: http://blog.shiprocksantafe.com/navajo-ketohs/). Today ketohs are often worn as a masculine cuff; I see quite a few men in New Mexico who wear them as a rugged and unique form of adornment.
This one measures just under 4" long and the face is about 4-3/4" from each edge of the bamboo coral, accounting for the curve of the face. The total length from buckle to leather tip is 10-1/2" and closer to 10" from leather end to leather end. The part that is intended to fit around the forearm measures 7" to 8", which is the part that corresponds to the circumference of the wrist.
A beautiful piece to wear or add to a collection.
Please convo with questions, or call (505) 369-6865. Will return your call as soon as possible.
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Native Belts and Bolos: http://bit.ly/2oz2XKp
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Convo to talk about a layaway plan that works for your budget.
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We do NOT do reserves or holds. Like any business, we use sales proceeds to keep the shop running. We truly can't afford to take items off the market. But even if you have some funds with which to make a down payment, we can do layaway with you. Just convo to say you'd like to do a layaway, and we'll work with you on that route instead of a Hold or Reserve.
We get correspondance almost daily asking how much certain items are worth or what the price was of items that have sold, and we can no longer respond to these messages.