Watson Honanie is now a major, prize-winning jeweler, especially noted for his intricate workmanship, the high drama of his designs, which relate to Hopi culture and life, and his effective mixing of silver and gold. He was mentored by his uncle, the late, celebrated Fred Kabotie, founder of the “Hopi”style” of jewelry, and the Hopi Guild, itself (which trained many jewelers). This latest piece demonstrates his faultless command of metal work and dramatic sense of design.
The eagle is sovereign of the skies; flying so high, it seems able to reach heaven. Therefore, it can carry prayers, hopes and wishes from the people on earth up to the spirits above. For this reason, it is held to be sacred to many tribes including the Hopi. The eagle’s dignity and power are also reasons it is our national bird.
This beautiful pendant honors the eagle, and its role in bringing good luck. It is expressed in the artist’s characteristic, precise overlay technique, with 14-karat gold covering a darkened and textured base of sterling silver. The gold is cut into a pattern of feathers, with rain and cloud designs at the top. A lovely, deep salmon-hued, natural coral forms the oval center of the eagle’s body, with the symmetrical overlaid designs on either side, like the animal’s folded wings.
The contrast between the highly polished gold and the dense black background is wonderfully graphic; the soft hue of the coral relates beautifully to the warm hue of the gold. The bail is also gold, for visual continuity. A marvelously designed piece by this Master of jewelry.