Collectors all over the world prize the distinctive silver jewelry crafted by the Hopi people of northern Arizona. Margaret Wright's comprehensive guide, first published over thirty years ago and updated in 1998 to include new artisans, has long been considered the best available reference on Hopi silversmithing and is now available only from UNM Press. Beginning with a brief look at the geographic area that helped form Hopi identity and culture, Wright moves on to examine Hopi silversmiths from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. Included is the important role played by Mary Russell-Colten of the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff. Russell-Colten encouraged the Hopis to adopt a unique design style that would set their work apart from other Indian silver work, thereby making it more easily distinguishable and profitable. Wright also provides a survey of the tools utilized by the artisans and index of hallmarks.
- Author: Margaret Nickelson Wright
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; 1998 revision edition (August 30, 2003)
- ISBN-10: 0826333826
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.9 x 0.4 inches
Margaret Nickelson Wright did graduate work in anthropology at the University of Arizona, Tucson. She has devoted many years to collecting information about Hopi jewelry and the Hopi artisans. She resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jewelry has been made and worn in the Southwest since prehistoric times. For thousands of years Native Southwestern people have made mosaic inlay and beads of turquoise, shell, bone or stone. Metal arrived with the Spanish. Native Americans acquired metal ornaments through trade, but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Navajo and Zuni artisans learned the craft from Mexican blacksmiths and silversmiths. Their early silver jewelry creations were plain, with simple engraved, stamped or punched designs. Turquoise was first used in silver around 1880. By the turn of the century, silversmithing was widespread across the Southwest, and Native artists were making more sophisticated pieces like concho belts and squash blossom and naja necklaces. The Navajo soon became known for their use of silver, emphasizing silver-heavy designs with only a few gemstones, while the Zuni focused on stone work, featuring finely cut clusters of gems in complex patterns. The Hopi and Pueblo tribes also developed distinctive jewelry styles in the early 1900s. Today, silver jewelry is an iconic image of the Southwest.
Wright’s books provides an index of hallmarks utilized by more than 300 Hopi silversmiths, arranged chronologically and by type of symbol, with brief information about each artist, making it a necessity for anyone collecting Hopi silver work.
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