In Navajo lore, Spider Woman is credited with teaching weaving to The People (DIné). This amazing bracelet shows a hogan, with little dog in front, and a girl weaving a rug at a loom, with mother or grandmother supervising and teaching. This is an iconic feature of Navajo life, and beautifully depicted in the textured silver.
The silver cuff is tufa cast, so the design was carved out of the crumbly, naturally compressed sandy material, and molten silver poured in, to form the cuff. Then, when completely cooled, the rough strip was refined and polished, so that the detailed scene shows up against the darkened background. As if the fine workmanship of the silver weren’t enough, the artist added an impressively large, square, pillowed stone of natural Bisbee turquoise! The vivid blue of the stone seems to represent the sky, while the abundant matrixof reddish brown symbolizes the earth.
The scene includes a large hogan, on one side of the offset stone, with smoke streaming from the center chimney, every log shown, a door and handle, and even a little dog scampering through the wild grasses at the bottom. A 14-karat gold sun is placed at one corner of the sky.
On the other side of the turquoise is a loom constructed of tree limbs, with a half-finished rug on it, and a young girl sitting in front, actively weaving. The delicacy and precision of every element is astonishing: the wooden posts are textured like wood, the rug pattern is shown in very fine outlines, and the threads holding the rug up are mere filaments of silver. The girl has her back to us; and her traditional bun is three-dimensional, and polished, like her voluminous skirt.
To her right, a larger, older woman is pointing out how to proceed with the weaving. She, too, is shown in great detail, including her upturned moccasins, hairdo, and pleated skirt. Her shirt is highly polished, and shows up well. Balls of spun yarn lie at her feet. Behind these, twi high cliffs rise up in the distance, as they do on the Navajo lands.
Superlative skill, an impressive stone, and a beautiful design altogether create a truly remarkable bracelet.