Long ago, in a a hogan far, far away, on the Navajo reservation – or a Pueblo near Albuquerque – a silversmith carefully made a bolo from sterling silver, natural Morenci turquoise and a piece of natural red coral. No signature, so it could be either.
Acquired in the 1960’s or very early ’70’s this is one of the few pieces that managed to evade notice for all these years. As we organize, things come to light, at last.
The silver can be polished to gleam like new, if you like, but we have left it with the patina of age. It is fabricated from a flat, tapered piece of silver that was stamped around all four edges.
Unusually, the long edges were then rounded, although the delicate hand stamping, and precise chisel work, is still visible on all four sides.
Set above the silver face, in a scalloped bezel, is a tapered, large, natural Morenci turquoise. Age has turned the original bright blue to a vivid teal, but the matrix of metallic pyrite still gleams in the light.
Following the mode of the time, a fragment of natural red coral, left in its natural twig form, accompanies the turquoise. The size and quality of the turquoise is hard to find, today.
To the right, a vertical fan of silver feathers echoes the arcs of the stamp work. The silver tips are slightly stamped,and end in round beads, with a tiny dome at the very bottom.
Although the work may be simpler and less perfect than many of today’s pieces, the authentic materials and the simplicity of the design, are appealing and handsome.
This isn’t”retro”; it is an original!