Jesus Walks on Water Bolo
Jesus Walks on Water Bolo by Daryl Dean Begay is tufa cast sterling silver with turquoise stones on a black leather leather cord with sterling silver tips. The bolo measures in length. The slide measures 2-1/2″L by 2-1/2″W. The silver tips measure 3-1/4″. The black leather cord is 52″ L.
Native American Artist: Daryl Dean Begay
Born on the Navajo Reservation, Darryl Dean Begay was raised in the traditional Navajo way of life. He is from a family of artists; his grandmother was a weaver and his grandfather a ceremonial sandpainter. It is from this background that his art emerges, creating one-of-a-kind, limited edition jewelry in sterling silver and gold. His uncle Bobby Begay, a Native American Church medicine man, helped teach him jewelry making. Working with him in the summer of 1997 changed his life.
“I was pursuing a college education, studying accounting and business,” said Darryl. “My uncle was going to a show in Colorado and he asked me to help him get ready.” Darryl was shown the old style technique of tufa casting used by Navajo silversmiths.
Tufa casting requires that a reverse of the design be carved into tufa (a porous sandstone) and then molten silver poured into it. His uncle told him about artists from the past, who would melt down U.S. silver dollars, Mexican pesos and old jewelry to pour into the molds. Darryl learned how to carve the stone and began making bracelets.
“At the show I met a Navajo watercolor painter, Bill Russ Lee. I liked one of his paintings, so after the show I asked him if he would be interested in trading. He looked at my bracelets and asked me how long I had been doing this work. I told him it was my first attempt. He told me they were ‘good for the first time’ and that he ‘saw potential’ in my work. He gave me a really good painting, but it was his words that encouraged me to continue.”
History of Native American Jewelry
The History of Native American Jewelry is deeply rooted in the culture of the American Southwest. Certain historical processes have given American Indian jewelry a strong presence in today’s modern style. The use of Turquoise is by far the most influential aspect of ancient Indian jewelry used in modern western fashion. Archeological evidence supports the theory that stones, which include turquoise, shells, and carved fetishes, predate the Christian epoch. Turquoise that was found in Hohokam excavations in southern Arizona has dated back to 200 B.C. Even older in central Mexico, approximately 600-700 B.C., and in South America about 900 B.C.
Native American Jewelry has a unique past. Knowing that story is the key to understanding the Indian jewelry styles of today. Native Americans started making silver jewelry in the late 1800’s when the Spaniards came, making jewelry, ornaments for their horses and trinkets for barter. But the Indian jewelry made before this time provided the foundation for their own style. Although the tribes and their styles vary, some common themes persist. There is significant evidence of beaded Turquoise jewelry. Turquoise and shell, paired with feathers would be strung and hung from every place possible. Yarn, leather, and sinew were woven into patterns and incorporated into necklaces, bracelets and clothing with the stones and shell. Other unique, beautiful items from nature would be included as much as possible. In Arizona this jewelry dates back over 2300 years, during the Hohokam era. Metal was rare but not out of the picture entirely. Some archeologists suggest gold and silver was worked by certain tribes in North America during this ancient time but its use would have been limited. Gold and Silver was worked by the Native peoples of Mexico and Central America since the time of the Aztec, so its possible Native American tribes living in the southwest region could be aware of metal working in some way much earlier than the Spanish arrival. It is even difficult to put a date on just when the Native Americans started making silver jewelry after the Spanish arrival. Some authorities will say the 1870’s some the 1890’s.