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Native American Squash Blossom Necklaces

One of the most characteristic of Southwest Indian jewelry designs, the squash blossom necklace was not traditional until after the arrival of Europeans, when Navajo silversmiths adopted the crescent-shaped "naja" of the Spanish into their own artwork. The earliest Navajo squash blossom necklaces were silver only; the now-familiar turquoise inlay patterns were a Zuni innovation in the 19th century. It is unknown where the name "squash blossom necklace" originally came from, since neither the Navajo, Zuni nor other Pueblo Indians call the necklace this in their own language. It may have been a mistranslation between English, Spanish, and one of the Southwest Indian languages, or perhaps someone thought the shape of the beads looked like squash blossoms at some point. (You can compare an actual squashblossom to one of the necklaces here: Do squash blossom necklaces resemble squashblossoms?) The similarity is not especially striking, but it could have happened. The necklace design is not a traditional stylized depiction of squash blossoms in any Southwestern Indian culture we know of, though.

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There is a thriving trade in something called "dead pawn" squash blossom necklaces, which are basically antique jewelry once owned by a Native American which ended up in a Southwestern pawn shop, in one of the usual ways (stolen and sold there, taken from the indebted owner by a creditor who needed quick money, or pawned there by an Indian who was never able to reclaim it). Frankly, I'm rather uncomfortable with dead pawn jewelry--modern dealers and owners obviously haven't done anything wrong, but most of the pieces have at worst thievery and at best poverty and desperation in their past, otherwise they would have been sold at a store for a profit. Also, buying this jewelry today will not pass even one dollar along to the artist's descendants or any other native person. Why not buy some of the beautiful jewelry made by the many talented Navajo, Zuni and Pueblo Indian artists still working today, instead? Here are some good places to buy squash blossom necklaces guilt-free, and support the ongoing Indian jewelry-making tradition with your purchase. If you have a website of squash blossom jewelry to add to this list, let us know. We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art store here free of charge, provided that all necklaces are made by tribally recognized American Indian/First Nations artists.

Thank you for your interest in Native American squash blossom necklaces!

Squash Blossom Necklaces

On our main site we do our best to avoid slowing down our page loading with graphics, but this page is about art, so we'd really be remiss in not showing a few representative squash blossom pictures. All photos are the property of their respective artists; please visit their sites to see their work in more depth. Be aware that all traditional Native American jewelry, including all the work on this page, is handmade, so it is going to be priced accordingly.

Pueblo Jewelry
Squash blossom necklaces and other handmade Southwest Indian jewelry from a Pueblo artist.
Pueblo Chelles
Squash blossoms and other jewelry from a variety of Southwest Indian artists.

Squash Blossom Books
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Jewelry by Southwest American Indians
     Interesting overview of Southwest Indian jewelry from ancient to modern times. Lots of photographs.
Southwestern Indian Jewelry
     Another nice photographic exploration of native Southwestern jewelry.
The Beauty of Navajo Jewelry
     Art history and photographs of Navajo Indian jewelry.
The Beauty of Hopi Jewelry
     Art history and photographs of Hopi Indian jewelry.
Zuni Jewelry
     Art history and photographs of Zuni and other Pueblo jewelry.

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Squash Blossom Links

Here are some other good internet resources for learning about or purchasing squash blossom necklaces:

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act: US law against passing off fake American Indian crafts as genuine.
Squash Blossom Necklace: Brief article on the origins of the squash blossom design.
Antique Indian Silver Jewelry: Article on the history of modern Navajo and other southwest Indian silverwork.
The History of American Indian Jewelry: History of Southwest Indian silver and turquoise jewelry.
Native American Jewelry: Orrin contributed to this larger directory of Indian crafts, many of which are authentic.
American Indian Cultures: View our pages for individual Indian tribes, most of which have artistic information.

About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, an non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We are not artists ourselves, so if you are interested in buying some of the squash blossom necklaces featured on this page, please contact the artists directly. Though we have featured only squash blossoms identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally. We also don't guarantee any of their products. This is not an exhaustive list of Native American squash blossom jewelry--if you would like us to add your squashblossom site to this page, please contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation. We advertise any individual native artist or native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to squash-blossom necklaces which are not made by tribally recognized American Indian/First Nations artists, so please do not ask us to. And finally, websites do occasionally expire and change hands, so use your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual necklace is not identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at a genuine American Indian squash blossom necklace.

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