From The Mexican And The Pueblo Indian He Rapidly
Picked Up The Necessary Knowledge, And Practice Soon Gave The Skill To
Fashion The Silver Into Every Desired Shape.
Navahos Used Silver Three Centuries Ago.
Cushing contends that the Zunis
knew how to smelt metals before the Spanish conquest, but the statement is
strongly disputed. There can be no question, however, but that the large
use of silver ornaments by both pueblo and Navaho Indians dates from three
hundred and fifty years ago, after Coronado's conquistadores had found out
that this was no land of gold and precious metals, as was Peru.
In almost every pueblo of Arizona and New Mexico, and in many a Navaho
hogan, one may find the primitive silversmith at work. There is no
silversmith's shop, but generally in a corner of the quaint pueblo house,
or in an adjunct to the Navaho hogan, the worker quietly pursues his
important avocation; for in a community whose members have no other
metallic arts, the silversmith is an important man, and sees to it that his
profession is regarded with the high dignity it deserves.
Method of Working. With a rude mud forge, - the bellows of which, though
primitive, is as ingenious as any patent bellows invented, - a hammer, a
piece of railroad steel for an anvil, a three-cornered file, one or two
punches, a crucible which he understands how to make as well as the best
metallurgist in the land, and a bit of solder, he goes to work.
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