Sunday, March 25, 2012

The elegance of the cross. A Native American jewelry tradition

We have just emailed a notice to those who have signed up to hear from us announcing a sale on Native American cross pendants.

The cross pendant is an interesting object of Native American jewelry. Of the many abstract and representational creations by Zuni and Navajo jewelry artists, the crucifix inherently extends to both traditional Native American culture and predominantly Christian European culture.

The cross came into the Native American culture through the influence of Spanish Catholic explorers and religious authorities. As they moved through the Indian territories of the Southwest, they spread the gospel, converting thousands of Natives to Christian beliefs. At least, they convinced the Indians that it was economically and socially wise to add Christian symbols and ceremonies to their traditions, even if they weren't "true believers."

Over generations, Native Americans absorbed christian theology and blended it with their native tribal religions. Mission churches did not replace kivas, but they certainly assumed a place alongside them.

It was natural then that the development of silver work and lapidary by talented Navajo, Zuni and other tribal jewelry artisans would be expressed in crosses to be worn as pendants. Today, designs vary while retaining substantial fidelity to the basic crucifix form. They have been created in gold and silver (less gold these days, given the expense of that medium). They have been studded with cabuchons of turquoise, lapis, shell, coral and other semi-precious stones. They have included delicate inlay and channel work with the same stones.

The result is a bounty of jewelry possibilities, all of which permit and encourage the faithful to display their Christian beliefs while making statements of beauty and taste. Of additional interest is the fact that many, many authentic Native American cross pendants, while elegant and attractive are surprisingly inexpensive to give and wear.

Now, until Easter 2012, we are offering a 10% discount on all our Navajo crosses and Zuni crosses. Simply use the code "faith" when you order on line or by phone (800-305-0185) 10% will be deducted from the listed price.

Thank you and Happy Easter.

PS: We don't intend to offend our Jewish adherents. There are many non-Christian Native American designs that will make wonderful additions to the Native American jewelry wardrobe of people of all faiths. But the relationship between traditional Native American culture and Christian beliefs is a fact, and can't be ignored.