Fortunately for us all, we found this striking ring, by the late and much lamented Richard Begay, while doing inventory. The unusual look suggests that Richard was going toward a more modern interpretation of his signature style. He was a recognized master of meticulously fashioned and colorful inlay, paired with fine silver work. This ring demonstrates that well-deserved title.
The design and materials are traditional: prayers for rain in the silver; turquoise, coral, and jet in the inlay. The shape of the ring is anything but expected. The asymmetrical, angular form sizzles with dynamic movement, and the size of the ring face demands attention.
In the silver, a Yei spirit shakes his dance rattle, right above a fan of stylized feathers which symbolize prayers. The surrounding motifs represent the rain that the prayers are for. Stepped designs symbolize rain, while the angular spirals mean storm winds and clouds. Water, of course, is very good luck in the high desert of Navajo country.
The traditional choice of inlaid stones symbolize the balance of nature: turquoise for rain and water; red coral for earth and sun, and jet to ground them. The whole design is integrated visually and thematically, resulting in a dramatic statement that will be a source of admiration at all times. It is sad, that the artist will never be able to continue on this path toward modern interpretations of the traditional, but enjoy what he did achieve – this ring is definitely special.