“Spirit of the A:shiwi” Buckle
This is probably the most unusual, breathtaking, and creative buckle we have seen. It is hard to find words that adequately describe it.
Let’s start with the statement that this is a masterful work of art, whether worn, or proudly displayed.
Julius is nephew to Jolene Eustace, grandson of the late Felicita and Ben Eustace, and related to many others in this large and gifted family of jewelers.
He is known for stylish jewelry that reflects the past, but in a modern way. This buckle goes far, far beyond the ordinary, but keeps to that agenda.
A:shiwi is the Zuni term for their people. This piece incorporates the essential icons of their culture.
Fabricated primarily with tufa cast silver, the rough, open work design is like a fossilized artifact, or piece of ancient lace.
It is studded with fine stones that wink and twinkle in the light: natural, iridescent opals, golden citrine, rich red garnets, and icy white topaz.
These flashes of color add to the ancient royalty look of the piece, but also represent earth (red), sun (yellow), sky and water (blues and greens), and sparkling rain (white topaz).
Shaped like an arrow, the intermittently cut-out form represents lightning, according to the artist.
In the center, an equally rough-textured Sunface displays fastidious detail in its features. There are also minute patches of 24-karat gold leaf on the top and bottom of the face.
Just to the left of the Sunface, a Zuni Rain Dancer’s head is visible, with the long beard that symbolizes rainfall, swaying in the wind. A rainbow arc is seen above the Sunface, to the right.
Sun, rain, rainbow, together signify the hoped-for balance of nature that will result in abundant crops, and thus health and happiness.
To the bottom right, a spiral is the ancient journey, or path, of life design. Despite the jaggedly abstract aura of the piece, the details are exquisite.
Behind, the working parts of the buckle are equally well-executed, with a beautiful, polished keeper that is an abstraction of flowing water.
This is a buckle that reflects a talented jeweler’s unique and fabulous vision, executed with remarkable and extraordinary skill.
Like a freshly excavated artifact, after eons in the ground, almost eaten away by time, this distinctive buckle is astonishing and mesmerizing.
It marks a landmark in this younger artist’s career, moving from handsome, more conventional, jewelry to this magnificent, extraordinary work of art.