|Hopi Indian Jewelry
Native American jewelry has changed
dramatically in the last half century
and continues to evolve as new
patterns, methods, and raw materials
come into use. Whereas most jewelry
of the previous period was made by
Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Rio Grande
Pueblo people, Native jewelers today
represent a cross section of tribes
from Alaska to the Southwest and all
Photo: Hopi Silversmith, 1930.
For example, inlay techniques formerly
used almost exclusively by the Zuni,
are now employed by artists of many
tribes. The erasure of what were
strict lines is a positive. Artists are
now free to borrow, experiment, and
innovate. Native Americans are no
longer isolated in their craft, tightly
bound by tradition, but now work in a
constantly evolving art form.
Buy Hopi Indian Jewelry
Jewelry making was brought to the
First Mesa village of Sichomovi in
north eastern Arizona by a Zuni
silversmith named Lanyade and by
1906 there were active silversmiths in all the Hopi villages. Up until 1940 the jewelry was similar
to Zuni and Navajo, however, a new style utilizing designs from pottery, basketry and textiles was
gradually introduced which gave pieces a distinctive look. After World War II, a group of returning
Hopi were trained to use ancient Hopi pottery designs and these continue until present.
Hopi jewelry is most likely to be overlay which employs two pieces of silver. There is a base piece
to which is soldered the design which is cut out of the top sheet with a fine saw. The remaining
negative area is tooled with a texture and is oxidized with chemicals. If an artist uses a
combination of silver and gold, the base piece will most likely be silver.
Another popular Hopi style is mosaic inlay, popularized by the late Charles Loloma who, in 1972, used
mosaic inlay on the inside of a gold bracelet, placing stones against the wearer's skin which was
invisible to the viewer.
Hopi Indian Charles Loloma's influence in the field of Indian art has been pronounced. He was
probably the first prominent Indian craftsman who worked outside the traditional Indian influence,
and this dual influence resulted in a unique personal style that has been widely imitated among
Charles Loloma's "channeling" technique evolved from an accidental split in a large stone. He took
advantage of the split, pieced it back together, and in order to make the break less obvious, added
other stones to either side, creating a mosaic effect. Mosaic jewelry has since become a separate
Loloma once said that he works to allow the stone to express itself. It is this sensitivity to
materials and circumstance that makes Loloma the innovative designer he is.
In later years Loloma continued to work in turquoise, explaining that he was obtaining some of the
best turquoise and combining it with gold because "it is so rare and unique...." He is one of the first
Native Americans to make jewelry using gold.
Loloma's innovations opened the door for much of modern Hopi work which may employ gold and
diamond accents along with a wide variety of stones.
HOPI INDIAN WORLD VIEW
Hopi Indians see the world in a very different way than most Americans, yet they too have always
congregated into cities or Mesas, since ancient times.
However, the Hopi say there is no uniform history of the tribe. They are a "gathering of clans,"
each with its own social and ceremonial identity, and its own history of migration to the Hopi Mesas
in what became northeastern Arizona.
Archaeologists try to analyze Hopi migrations as discrete episodes, while the Hopi emphasize
movement of clans over time, from village to village, "leaving a trail of ancestral sites."
Although unusually beautiful, the land of the Hopi in northeastern Arizona is one of sparse rainfall,
searing summers, and icy winters, rendering day-to-day existence difficult for the Hopi, who
consequently see themselves and their place in the environment as a balance requiring careful
maintenance. It is through jewelry making that many modern Hopi maintain historic cultural norms
while adjusting to contemporary influences in the American society.
Hopi Witch Performing A Ritual
Hopi Indian Dancing at Harvest
Hopi Women Placing Jewelry in Her Hair, 1930