Arland Ben 14k Gold Over Sterling Silver Eagle Mountain Petroglyph Belt Buckle
This incredible sterling silver and 14 karat yellow gold eagle mountain petroglyph belt buckle is made by Navajo artist Arland Ben. The focal point is a beautiful eagle in flight surrounded by mountains, an antelope, lightning bolts, stars, a crescent moon, the hands of man, a wind swirl, and a man and woman holding hands. Each gold petroglyph is hand cut and set. The prehistoric art motifs seen in his work are inspired by the ancient drawings at Newspaper Rock in Utah. Arland grew up in the Four Corners area, but has traveled around this great country for school. Along the way he’d compete in rodeos, wrestling, coaching, raise two boys and get some screen time in major Hollywood productions. Arland lives a full life and that is expressed through his art. Measuring 2” inches long by 2 ¾” inches wide, this buckle is a handsome piece of wearableart. The imagery is remarkably powerful and the contrast between the gold and silver is luxurious.
Native American Artist: Arlan Ben
Navajo artist Arland Ben has worked with metal for nearly twenty years. In college, he studied art and experimented with various media: charcoal, watercolors, and clay. His brother-in-law introduced him to working with silver and showed him how to manipulate it. Then Ben taught himself how to work with gold.
Ben draws his inspiration from everything and he bestows special honor on functional art.
“Art is everywhere in the world,” he says.
As he sees it, we walk through art everyday. In contrast with many metal smiths, Ben always hand-cuts or overlays it. He also eschews templates and cuts out his shapes by memory.
“I draw the figure in my mind and move it around in a three dimensional space. Then, I hand-cut the figure into the metal,” says Ben.
Ben still considers simplicity the mark of a finished piece. He admits that creating overly elaborate work is a temptation of his craft, and that restraint is required to keep his designs simple.
Petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock
Newpaper rock boasts over 650 petroglyphs covering a group of rockfaces within a small area. High concentrations of petroglyphs like this mark a place as hugely significant. Many generations of people saw these markings and contributed their own. The petroglyphs were created by ancestral Puebloan people living, farming, and hunting along the Puerco River between 650 and 2,000 years ago. Some of the ancient artists may have lived at Puerco Pueblo, located less than one mile north of this site.
With so many “writers” over so many years, it is impossible to “read” the rockface. There is no linear story, but we can still learn from the markings. Modern American Indian groups’ interpretations include family or clan symbols, spiritual meanings, and calendar events. Some mark territory boundaries or migratory routes.