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. Sometimes
he runs his melted Mexican dollars into primitive moulds; again he hammers
the metal into the shape he requires. He creates rings, some of them
containing rude pieces of turquoise, garnet, etc., well designed bracelets,
belt-disks, large and small silver buttons (some of which are admirably
adapted for belt-buckles), earrings, necklaces, crosses, beads, bangles,
clasps of silver for bridles, etc.
Ornaments and jewelry. The two most cherished objects are the waist-belt
and the necklace, though far more rings and bracelets are to be found. But
this is on account of the great expense of the former. The waist belts
generally consist of eight moulded plates, either circular or oval, with
filleted border and scalloped edges, each plate weighing from two to four
ounces. These are punctured in the center, or a small band is soldered to
the back, to admit of their being threaded upon a long and narrow belt of
leather, the ends of which are fastened with a buckle. Both men and women
wear these, and they are highly prized as ornaments by both sexes. The
necklaces are equally in vogue, the designs being principally hollow beads,
crosses, and ornaments representing pomegranate blossoms. The silver bridle
is also an object of great esteem. It is made of curiously designed, heavy
clasps of silver, fastened upon leather, with numberless buttons shaped
from coins. Many of these weigh not less than fifteen ounces, and some as
high as forty, hence their value can be readily estimated.
CHAPTER XIX. The Hopis And Their Snake Dance
A Hopi Religious Rite. Interesting among Indians, because of their unique
houses on the summits of high mesas, reached only by precipitous trails,
the Hopi of northern Arizona always have possessed peculiar fascination on
account of their thrilling religious rite, known as the Snake Dance, an
account of which follows.*
* This Sacred Dance and the life of the Hopi Indians is more fully set out
in the author's larger work "The Indians of the Painted Desert Region".
The Painted Desert.
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