Friday, February 8, 2008

Made in Heaven?

As I was listing this masterwork of silver by Berra Tawahongva, I was struck with the precision & beauty and thought it made an excellent example of quality that you might expect to find only in heaven. We can be fairly certain it's not from heaven for there silver probably doesn't rate as a precious metal as it does here on Earth. Still this precisely made work of art should satify the most discriminating of upper crust consumers. The central image is that of a Sunface, on the left is a Kokopelli musician, and on the right a corn plant which has been so important to the survival the Hopi's. One reason this buckle pops in such an artistic way is the contrast of the shinny sterling silver surface against the textured silver areas. One of the Hopi traders told me is a comparatively new innovation in Hopi silversmithing. Berra Tawahongva learned his silversmithing at the Hopi Guild which has been responsible for training so many master craftsman. His hallmark is the symbol for Masau'u (Skeleton Kachina), the only kachina who does not go home at the Niman Ceremony and thus may dance at any time of the year. Because he is a Death Kachina, he may do many things by opposites, for the world of the Dead is the reverse of this world. For instance, he comes down a ladder backward or performs other actions in reverse. As I often say, I can't wait to get back to Hopi on another shopping trip. As soon as Sandy gets home, I'm taking her for fried chicken then a 4 wheel-drive trip out onto the snow saturated, muddy reservation in search of Navajo Clarence Lee whose work I hope to soon feature on this blog. Little did I know a few months ago that dealing in Native American jewelry would be this much fun.