Overlay Portrait Pendant
A son of Stanley Parker, well-known for his neo-traditional jewelry designs, Natay focusses on Navajo history in a different way. He passionately wants Navajo youth to reconnect with their history.
To that end, he walked the nearly 400 miles from Canyon de Chelly to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, reliving the notorious Long Walk of 1864 that his great-grandmother was forced to take.
Nearly one-fifth of the hundreds of people forced to leave their homes died during that march, or soon after.
Meant to destroy Navajo identity, the Long Walk only served to preserve it, and it is as ingrained in Navajo hearts as the Holocaust is in our time.
So, with a personal, as well as cultural, connection to that deplorable event, Natay commemorates Native heroes through his jewelry.
This dramatic pendant uses overlay technique to create a portrait of a man. (It might actually refer to a noted Navajo leader of the time, but we don’t know which one.)
There are irregular jagged borders to the edge of the portrait, resembling both rain, and the rocky cliffs the Dine (The People) had to traverse.
The portrait is abstract but recognizable as a Navajo man in profile. His headband, earring, and features are suggested, rather than precisely detailed.
There is great power in his expression of rage and endurance.
The overlaid, polished silver stands out dramatically, against the velvety black finish of the base silver.
Another contrast is the impeccable, small-scale hand stamping that frames the circular pendant, and adorns the front of the bail.
It is as if the portrait is a phantom of the past, while the stamp work, in its minute detail, is an example of the present culture of people who were meant to forget, but survived.
Aside from the gripping story behind the piece, this pendant is a well-made, very striking piece of jewelry and unique.