Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning
April 13, 2014 through May 30, 2016
Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning highlights the Museum’s extensive collection of Southwestern turquoise jewelry and presents all aspects of the stone, from geology, mining and history, to questions of authenticity and value.
People in the Southwest have used turquoise for jewelry and ceremonial purposes and traded valuable stones both within and outside the region for over a thousand years. Turquoise, Water, Sky presents hundreds of necklaces, bracelets, belts, rings, earrings, silver boxes and other objects illustrating how the stone was used and its deep significance to the people of the region. This comprehensive consideration of the stone runs through May 2, 2016.
View the online version of the exhibition at http://turquoise.indianartsandculture.org
Ring, 1930s, Navajo or Zuni Pueblo. Silver, Blue Gem turquoise. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (40661/12). Photograph by Blair Clark.
Squash-blossom necklace, 1920–39, Navajo, maker unknown. Silver, Turquoise Mountain turquoise. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (45626/12). Photograph by Blair Clark.
A concho belt is both functional and ornamental, made of leather with round or oval silver decorations embellished with turquoise and sometimes coral. The belt’s name derives from the Spanish word conchas (shells, referring to the silver belt decorations). Traditionally these belts are made by the Zuni and the Diné (Navajo).
To the Native American it is the turquoise color that carries all the power and references to sky, water, birth, health. The stone does not necessarily have to be used for ritual or decoration. These pieces dating from 800-1200AD are wood painted to resemble turquoise. Given the scarcity of turquoise and the difficulty mining the fragile stone with primitive tools these three pieces are not fake in the eyes of a Native American.