Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning
April 13, 2014 through May 2, 2016
Many of the materials that accompany turquoise on southwestern jewelry come from oceans, reinforcing the water symbolism of turquoise. Here the raw materials are shown beside jewelry made from them. Raw materials are jet (Cat # 40885/12, 7” by 3.5 inches); abalone (Cat # 36751/12, 5” by 6.5”); spiny oyster or Spondylus sp. shell (Cat# 57795/12, 5” by 5”); and coral (Cat# 57808/12, 4” wide by 3” long). The earrings (Cat#36134/12a,b, 1.1” by 1.3” each) were made by Hopi artist Talaqumptewa and are made of cottonwood, turquoise, abalone, and cotton cordage . The necklace (Cat # 57080/12, 17”long) was made in Santo Domingo Pueblo of turquoise, coral, jet, spiny oyster, mother-of-pearl, silver, and fiber.
Contemporary Artistic Expressions
Angie Reano Owen of Santo Domingo used Red Mountain turquoise inlaid on shell to create this contemporary cuff (Cat #55381/12, 3.5 by 2.5 inches). The techniques and materials, however, have been used for at least a thousand years by Native Southwestern turquoise artists.
Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning highlights the Museum’s extensive collection of Southwestern turquoise jewelry and presents all aspects of the stone, from geology, mining and history, to questions of authenticity and value.
People in the Southwest have used turquoise for jewelry and ceremonial purposes and traded valuable stones both within and outside the region for over a thousand years. Turquoise, Water, Sky presents hundreds of necklaces, bracelets, belts, rings, earrings, silver boxes and other objects illustrating how the stone was used and its deep significance to the people of the region. This comprehensive consideration of the stone runs through May 2, 2016.
A concho belt is both functional and ornamental, made of leather with round or oval silver decorations embellished with turquoise and sometimes coral. The belt’s name derives from the Spanish word conchas (shells, referring to the silver belt decorations). Traditionally these belts are made by the Zuni and the Diné (Navajo).