Monday, September 8, 2008

Zuni Canteen

The ability to craft a good canteen is the mark of an accomplished silversmith, an art among the Navajo that goes back to around 1880. It was in that year that Washington Matthews, a Ft. Wingate, NM army officer, published an account of silversmithing in which a silver canteen was described and illustrated. In that era they were popular among the soldiers as tobacco flasks. The great modern Navajo canteens I've seen among the Navajo were crafted by Harry Morgan, Sunshine Reeves, and Gary Reeves. The above mini-canteen was made by Carlton Jamon of Zuni. The canteen shown measures only 3 inches from top to bottom and about 3/4 of an inch in thickness. Thus, it is clearly designed for use as a perfume carrier as they were popularly used by Navajo women in the early 20th century. They would buy perfume at the trading post then put their pleasant fragrance in one of these small canteens to carry securely tied to the bottom of a strands of beads. The above sterling silver canteen is accented with the 12K gold petroglyphic hand, sleeping beauty turquoise, and malachite. The silver surface is both textured and shinning. I was able to buy only this one piece, but Mr. Jamon appeared anxious to make more for me, so I hope to keep them on hand in EBay store. Price $700.