An acknowledged master of tufa casting, he has already won the most prestigious award in the world of Indian Art: Best of Show at Santa Fe Indian Market.
He is equally and gloriously at home with finely detailed traditional motifs, and – as here- creative interpretations.
This bolo is not quite traditional, and not quite minimalist, but exhibits Darryl Dean’s characteristic refinement and elegance.
He goes out to Hopi country, to buy the superior tufa found there. The difference can be seen in the extra-fine texture of his pieces.
Tufa is crumbly, compressed lava sand, and usually only useful for one or, at most, two casts.
With unbelievable clarity and precision, he has depicted a Native warrior, in an abstracted version of a traditional Yei figure.
The head is a glorious, vibrant teal, natural turquoise. The body is a tapered, minimal form, ending in abstract feet.
The tapered bolo base is somewhat darkened, and burnished brightly; the figure’s body is definitely darkened and partially burnished.
Both areas exhibit the fine-grain texture of this particular type of tufa.
But it is the exquisite detail and creative design that make this bolo so exceptional.
Starting at the top, two graceful eagle feathers are attached to the head, clearly recognizable by their darkened tips.
The body of the figure is extraordinary in several ways: the actual design and its elements, and the execution.
Delicate burnished lines, like the edge of a blanket, swoop across the figure. Within, as if revealing the body of the warrior, it is covered with tiny, raised stars.
Superimposed on this star-studded area, a large circle, like a war shield, extends beyond the edge of the figure.
This shield contains an unbelievably detailed and exact carving of the American eagle, wings outspread.
The stars evoke our flag; the warrior’s shield resembles the official seal of the USA.
Native Americans, per capita, are known to comprise an inordinate proportion of our armed forces, historically.
This design is an homage to the historic allegiance of Natives to the government they bravely serve. (Despite that it has, historically, treated them less than well.)
It is stunning in its simplicity, powerful beauty and deeply felt message.
The execution of this emotional and exquisite design is phenomenal: the tiny, precise stars, the eagle, the eagle feather, the warrior – everything, really.
The flawless delicacy and exactitude of the details is astounding; the artist’s skill matches his creativity.
Compare this layered and precise tufa cast work to others, and you will see why Darryl Dean Begay is at the top of the heap.
Polished tips are tapered, echoing the form of the bolo. The hand-braided leather cord is sturdy.
A unique, beautiful message in a unique, refined and remarkable bolo.
A museum-worthy collector’s piece, indeed.