Parrots take part in a Zuni creation legend: A medicine man offered the populace a choice between two kinds of bird eggs: a beautiful blue, or a muddy red one.
One egg would fly away to eternal summer and lush crops; the other would remain in a place where winter, weather and soil would make farming difficult.
Most wanted the pretty blue eggs, which hatched into ravens, signifying the winter, for people who became the Zuni.
The lowly reddish eggs hatched into gorgeous parrots, and flew off to the south, with the rest of the group.
Troy is a third-generation carver, who learned from grandfather George Haloo Cheechee, uncles Ramie and Miguel Haloo, and brother Colvin Peina, all deceased.
He is routinely honored for fetishes that are impeccably carved, often with expensive natural turquoise, coral and other gemstones inlaid in natural antler.
He is among the top Zuni carvers, although not yet 40 years old.
This ensemble of parrots is a spectacular example of his award-winning work. A “pandemonium” is the official word for a group of parrots (because they talk a lot, and loudly?). This remarkable group of five won’t bother you with noise, but will delight you visually.
Carved individually from naturally shed, polished elk or deer antler, each parrot is a graceful, somewhat abstracted form that is, nevertheless, very realistic.
Look at their heads, with typical, prominent parrot beaks. Their graceful wings are folded as they confer, and are indicated with delicate carving.
The brilliant plumage of parrots is suggested by the inlaid, richly hued stones of natural red coral, deep blue lapis and sky blue turquoise.
The stones are arranged to emphasize the aerodynamic, tapered form of each parrot, and simulate the glorious, bright feathers.
The birds are perched on a large chunk of natural, green serpentine – parrot green, in fact! – whose mottled coloration mimics the lush foliage of the jungle.
Larger and smaller, they are composed in a way that looks equally wonderful from any side, just as a sculpture should.
There is a spiritual aspect to Troy’s work: He saves all the left-over scraps, takes them out to the wilderness and buries them with a pinch of sacred cornmeal and a prayer, in order to give the materials back to Mother Earth, with thanks. If the scraps include antler, he believes that is returned to the animal’s spirit.
All that is background; what is in front of us is a superb carving that is a sculpture, a table fetish, a concrete reference to ancient Zuni lore, and both gorgeous and unique.
A splendidly unique piece by this celebrated, award-winning artist.