Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Effie's Serpents

The name Effie is recognized the world over by Native American jewelry aficionados. So much so that her last name Calavaza need not be uttered. My friend Sammy the owner of Desert Indian Traders here in Gallup says, "If you don't sell Effie's jewelry, you are not in the Native American jewelry business." Effie was born into the Zuni tribe in 1928. She learned silversmithing from her husband Juan Zuni in 1956. She has been producing prolifically ever since. Snake dieties are central to the designs found on her work. The snake in Zuni culture is symbolic of defiance that gained renew significance with westward expansion and subsequent broken treaties in the 19th century which resulted in forced tribal relocations and thousands of deaths. The Zuni tribe successfully hid from the U.S. Army atop what's now called Zuni Mountain. Effie gained widespread recognition for her vigorous defense of her creation which lead her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to obtain the rights to her snake symbol which was being widely copied and coming back into the markets here via imports. Effie has taught her daughters silversmithing so we can be assured that her special brand of Zuni jewelry will go on for the forseeable future. Effie's work is rough cut, old style. I am somewhat surprised that it is in such high demand everywhere. It must be the allure of the her Serpents as seen on the belt buckle here.