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#134: Naja

July 28, 2010

Dear Ed of Puma Trading in Santa Fe sent me a new treasure: a singularly, perfectly beautiful Navajo Naja.  I had been looking for my simple old beauty for a long while. (Happy birthday to me…)

It was made on the bench sometime during the inter-war years, around the 1920’s.  Ed says that his best guess is that it’s ingot melted from old dimes.  It was restrung at some point in its lifetime; originally it would have laid on buckskin, a strip of rawhide or a string, but it’s now on a tiny chain.

The stones are Sleeping Beauty turquoise.  It is an Arizona turquoise noted for solid, light blue color with no matrix (gold or brown tones running through).  It was a favorite of the Zuni Tribe and the mine is still one of the largest operating in North America, although much of what is produced today is altered and made from remnants of what was harvested in yesteryear.

Naja is the Navajo word for “crescent.”  The style was adapted from their Spanish and Mexican influencers, and is a symbol of crop fertility.  Boldly donning symbols of fertility around my neck in this my 26th year is a matter of stylistic choice and cultural reverence, not mythical hope, I promise.

It’s a perfect size for everyday, so lightweight I can hardly feel it.  And it’s good to wear turquoise: protector of body and spirit, purveyor of health and happiness, according to the Natives.

Beads carefully shaped by hand.

Hopi Woman by Adam Clarke Vroman, 1886

Also by Vroman

A photos of a Medicine Man by Edward S. Curtis around the turn of the century.

Elder Medicine Man wearing a Naja, beaded with smaller naja and squash blossom around his neck.

And here’s to another year of treasure hunting.  Thank you to every ISV reader who helps to make it so special for me.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. ElGlucko permalink
    July 28, 2010 7:58 am

    Brilliant photos & research
    I want a Naja
    Happy Glorious Bday

  2. July 29, 2010 8:34 pm

    what an incredible find! a very happy birthday indeed. i’ve been craving a really good squash blossom for years now but haven’t been able to dedicate the time such a search deserves. i think i’ll give puma trading a try next time i’m in nm.

    love your love for my homeland, btw. i really enjoy reading your page.


  3. August 12, 2010 11:27 pm

    Happy (slightly belated) Birthday! Your blog is such a treasure to come across, in the same way that all your wonderful finds. Yes, to another year of treasure hunting!


  4. October 1, 2010 8:50 am

    hmmm D…I remember when you first started this blog…and I tried to give you some advice. Hah…I should get advice from you. You have a geniune talent for sharing your life and adventures and making it interesting and very very readable…way to go

    your friend Himel

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