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Native American Squash Blossom

Of all the fabulous items that Alltribes provides, one of the most characteristic and well known is the Squash Blossom Necklace. The principle part of the necklace is the crescent-shaped "naja". When Native American Indian jewelry is mentioned, the symbol that often comes to mind is the squash blossom necklace. These Navajo necklaces are the cornerstone of most Native American Indian jewelry collections

When Navajo silversmiths adopted the crescent-shaped "naja" of the Spanish into their own artwork, the Southwest Indian squash blossom jewelry necklaces were silver only. Approximately in 1880, silver necklaces made by the Navajo consisted of plain beads hung with a pendant in "naja" form. Beads on early necklaces have the largest beads placed on the middle of the strand. Like the pendant, graduation of the beads serves to define the center, both visually and by the weight of the larger, heavier beads. Each bead is made from two pieces of silver. Each half is domed by hammering the piece of silver in a wooden mold with a smooth round punch and then holes are punched in the center of each. The halves are soldered together. The bead is then buffed and polished; then the beads are strung. (The idea for hollow silver beads may have come from two button halves soldered together. The idea of buttons would have come from Spanish clothing decoration.) A simple strand of beads, graduated or not, suggests a rhythmic progression. Navajo song has been described as making creative use of repetition by introducing subtle patterns of alternation and progression. The evolved formal arrangement of necklace beads suggests a similar interest in repetition with variation. Similar rhythmic structures exist in music. The same interest in order, stability, and harmony found in this squash blossom necklace can also be found in Navajo music.

The now-familiar turquoise inlay patterns were a Zuni innovation in the 19th century. The squash blossom necklace serves as a reminder of the close interaction between the Pueblo and Navajo Indians since the mid 1800s. The necklace itself is Navajo, adopted by the Zuni. As the incorporation of turquoise on each of the blossoms is an advent of the Zuni, later adopted by the Navajo, it can be said that the Southwest Indian squash blossom jewelry necklaces originates not just from one of the people, but from many.

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