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#66: Old Turqs

May 10, 2009

It is said by the Native Americans of one who wears turquoise: the lightning will not strike him, the rattlesnake will not bite him. I like those odds! (Probably also a good combatant against Swine Flu…)

“Turquoise is a legendary jewel for the Indians of the American Southwest, sharing in the power of the creative spirit which animates all things in nature. It comes from the earth, and in its color there is the blue of the sky, the pale blue of the early morning, the bright blue of mid-day, the electric blue that darkens with the approaching thunder clouds, and the varied blues of the great ocean.” – Spencer Gill, Turquoise Treasures

There’s so much to learn about turquoise and its folklore, and what it means to cultures all over the world– not just the Native Americans, who believe it fends off disease and illness and will bring one happiness and success. On a physical level, I’ve learned that turquoise is usually found within the first hundred feet of the surface of the ground. Its blue color comes from the presence of copper, and the presence of iron in the ground results in green colorations and sometimes a deepening of the blue– no two deposits of turquoise, or even parts of the same deposit, are alike.

On my trip out west I had the good fortune of finding a glorious cluster work piece by Navajo silversmith and artist Justin Wilson, now one of two (trust me, despite appearances these are not found everywhere!). The green color of the turquoise used bamboozles me, so much depth and matrix. I’m picturing the bracelet cuff here next to a penny to better represent how big this beauty is. C. 1950’s or 60’s.

American turquoise: its endless hues and variations reflect our country’s endless geological individuality and diversity, and serves up a good metaphor for our culture. I’m lovin’ it.

Today, most turquoise is mined in Asia since most of our American mines have closed. There’s also an over abundance of plastic knock-offs out there, high grade plastics dyed to look like real turquoise. If you’re going to get into it, know what you’re getting into… or find a spirit guide to show you.
space coyote
In your face, space coyote!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2009 2:36 pm

    You’re just gloriously retro enough to still buy stamps. Check out this 2 cent number.

    • indiansummervintage permalink*
      May 14, 2009 10:24 am

      $.40 cents now? Too rich for my blood. I remember those being so randomly awesome.

  2. May 14, 2009 10:07 am

    Gorgeous bracelets! What finds. (Jealous much? Not me!)

    Thanks for the cultural history.
    Holly

  3. indiansummervintage permalink*
    May 14, 2009 10:37 am

    Thanks sweet Holly, I think these are about my favorite things in the world!

  4. August 26, 2009 8:46 am

    Really nice posting and what a beautiful piece! I recently found a cuff at an estate sale that is signed “J. Wilson” and have been researching to figure out who he was. My piece has very similar bezel cups, braided silver and silver globs as your piece does. Thanks for posting such detailed pictures. Question – is your piece stamped with the artist’s name or was the name inscribed by hand?

    With warm regard,
    Jeri

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