Considered one of the premier jewelers now working, Ric Charlie was inspired by Charles Loloma and Preston Monongye, yet has forged his own award-winning path. The latest: a major award at Santa Fe Indian Market this past August. He is an acknowledged master of tufa casting, as seen in this splendid buckle.Notice the amazing delicacy of the curled spirals at the bottom left, and consider that they were carved out of a crumbly piece of compacted volcanic sand. The same goes for every intricate detail in this seemingly straightforward buckle: the subtle differences of texture in the background of each segment; the astonishing precision and sharp corners of the rectangular cloud motifs, to say nothing of the straight and regular, incredibly fine vertical lines, toward the right, that represent rain.
This buckle represents rain and water, the ultimate symbols of good luck for the Hopi. They are dry farmers, and rain ensures a harvest that leads to good health, happiness, and prosperity because there is an abundant amount of food crops. The opulent inlaid stones continue this theme of water, with the deep blue of lapis, the limpid aqua of the old Kingman turquoise, and the thundery purple of the sugilite. A natural, deep red coral represents the balancing principle of the earth.At first glance, relatively simple, this buckle is a summation of the virtuosity and masterful skill of the artist.
The design is beautifully executed as well as artistically envisioned; each element relates to the whole, and there is an understated but evident repetition of shapes so that the whole is wonderfully balanced, but not static and symmetrical. The abstract design looks contemporary, but the symbolism is age-old.
Every bit is hand fabricated, even the working parts on the back. The bar that holds the belt is even hinged, with tiny silver pins, as elegantly constructed as the buckle itself. And, in true Navajo custom, there is a secret surprise, known only to the wearer: a lovely landscape of Monument Valley, with a polished silver crescent moon and some stars, above. From every side, this is a superb buckle; contemporary Navajo jewelry at its best, by a celebrated, modern Master.
Sterling Silver, Natural Kingman Turquoise, Lapis, Sugilite, and Coral
Width: 3 1/2″ Height: 1 1/4″ Depth: 1/8″