Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coveted and Hard to Come By: The Native American Hair Piece

Native American's are known for their daily adornments, most, if not all, are made by fellow tribe members and given as gifts during certain ceremonies or celebrations. During celebratory activities adornments are ramped up a few levels and they wear their best and most treasured pieces, often stacking them one on the other. Many pieces have cultural significance and are sometimes directly related to the ceremony taking place, like this Holly Bracelet.

Everyday adornments are kept fairly simple with the hair piece being an ever present decoration. These pieces are functional art and are often passed down from generation to generation.

The Navajo hair piece pictured above is from the 1930s or previous, beautifully crafted, simple in design and traditionally constructed from a single piece os sterling.

This Rain Cloud design is also very old, and it's design speaks to Native American culture, their connection to the Earth and the importance of the Gods' willingness to provide them with much needed moisture. Again, this piece is artfully cut from a single sterling sheet.

This elongated Navajo piece is from the 1940s and incorporates an exaggerated twist in the pick elements and beautifully applied traditional stamping, with the featured stamps being done with a chisel. The tines are seperate from the headpiece and are beautifully soldered into place.

This very old Navajo piece is also elongated and has considerable age indications. The odd shaped stone is beautifully set and the hand stamping varies dramatically. The tines are seperate on this one as well, and in keeping with the primitive, early nature they're not as cleanly attached as the previous piece as the proper tools were not available at the time of it's construction

An important technique used in older Native American jewelry construction is “eyeballing” the stamp placement, the initial cut of the sterling with which the piece is to be made and stone positioning. This is one of my favorite attributes of handling Vintage and Old Pawn pieces and can easily be compared to musical improvisation.

Having these pieces in our collection is a real feather in our cap as they seldom leave the family of origin, and when they do, they more than likely remain within the tribe, as their personal nature is highly regarded. Most of these pieces were made specifically for a loved one or relative while considering their personal style or positioning within the tribal hierarchy.

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