Saturday, January 26, 2008

Comparisons--Crude vs Elegant

In the halcyon days of our early adult years Sandy and I wiggled out our deep Texas roots and moved to Sells, Arizona located deep in the heart of the Papago Reservation (now called Tohono O'Odam). That reservation is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. The Papago have always been well know for their elegant baskets. In that era there was only one known Papago silversmith; he kept a few pieces for sale at the Quijotoa store. We bought two pendants, both can seen here. We had always thought of them as priceless treasures. Sandy wore them frequently until they finally ended up buried for years at the bottom of her jewelry box. A couple of days ago, I asked her about them and after a short search she retrieved them. I was shocked to see how crudely made her "jewels" really were especially when compared to the simple, elegant, refined Hopi silver work as illustrated by the center piece in the image above. We were obviously enamored with the subject matter from those days when we enjoyed a wilderness lifestyle surrounded by the stately giant Saguaro cactus which provided a historically important food source from their bright fruit harvested annually by Papago women bearing long poles made of cactus ribs. The back pieces of these two Papago pendants are exceptionally crude; they bear the marks of the stamping and gouging out of the designs from the front. Still given the time period and subject depicted these "jewels" may one day find a place in a museum.