An absolute stunner of a piece! This couple is widely known for their exquisite inlay – usually of birds and flowers in a more traditional style. This collector’s jewel of a pin/pendant exhibits the same virtuoso inlay work, but with different techniques and an imaginative and dramatic design. Kolowesi is the Zuni water serpent; water is of paramount importance for these dry farmers who rely on rainfall. Therefore, he is a good luck symbol.
Notice the carefully incised scales on the black/brown shell of his body and horn, and the shimmering mother-of-pearl of his “tummy”. His teeth are also mother of pearl, divided by lines of pen shell, and his pointed tongue is bright red, natural coral. As is traditional, his tail coils all around, reaching back to nestle under his chin. This pre-eminent water symbol is surrounded by others, in a delightful assemblage of river and sea creatures: at the bottom, a silver and turquoise turtle swims right behind a turquoise inlaid fish; at the top, an iridescent mother of pearl jelly fish with silver tendrils, drifts toward a luminously mauve fish of lovely rhodochrosite.
Above, below and all around these watery creatures float silver-framed circles of various stones in various sizes. These turquoise, lapis, and more red coral, raised circles look like bubbles floating in the water. Their vibrant hues and buoyant arrangement add an additionally festive, lively air to the piece. The silver background has been textured; the chiseled ridges resemble ripples of water. Polished silver, framing all the elements, glitters even more, in contrast.
Water is the greatest lack, and best luck, for the Zuni, so this heirloom-quality pin/pendant is not only esthetically beautiful, and impeccable in workmanship, it is also spiritually significant. A versatile piece you can pin, or hang, as the mood and the outfit dictates. Charming and smile-inducing, it is also a splendidly decorative work of art.