Friday, March 2, 2012

The Concho Belt

The concho belt remains today the most iconic form of Native American jewelry. The Navajo derived the concho concept from the Plains Indians who wore round and oval plaque adornments of German Silver obtained from Anglo traders as hair pieces. The concho pieces were also strung on strips of leather to hang from the back of the head.  In the latter years of the 19th century, Navajo silversmiths copied and transformed the designs into waist belts using silver from coins.

The two Navajo men noted here but separated by a century in time share the distinction of being among the best silversmiths of their respective generations.   The 1883 studio image shows Bai-De-Schluch-A-Ichin or Be-Ich-Schluck-Ich-In-Et-Tzuzzigi, "Metal Beater," (Slender Silversmith) both wearing and displaying a concho belt. The second image shows a modern vintage classical style concho belt by the late Harry Morgan.

Slender Silversmith (Navajo) with Concho Belt
Photo by Ben Wittick 1883

Turquoise and Silver Concho Belt by Harry Morgan (Navajo)