Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Covered Wagons of Virgil Dishta

The Dishta artisan legacy goes back at least as far as Frank Dishta who was born in 1902 in Zuni. He is best known for his channel inlay, ground flush, and often composed of tiny circles, diamond shapes, and tear drops. His artistry anticipated the modern micro specialists like Ervin Tsosie, Clayton Tom, and Sammy Smith. Frank's son Virgil Dishta, Sr. distinguished himself with a prestigious award in 1950 from the Inter-tribal Ceremonial in Gallup, NM and subsequent recognition that year in Arizona Highways. Covered Wagons were his favorite design subject. Theda and Michael Bassman in their very well illustrated book Zuni Jewelry show an example one of his covered wagons pins made in the 1940's with wheels that turn and a brake that moves. The family jewelry traditions and skill live on through Virgil M. Dishta who also produces covered wagon pieces as illustrated above. Note the intricacy of the design and the small flush pieces of turquoise and red coral that bring bright color to the piece and reflect the work of his Grandfather. There are no brakes on the wagons, but on the bolo tie end pieces the wheels turn freely. The beauty and bountiful linear family heritage embodied in this jewelry pair makes them real Western classics.