Coral Kingman Turquoise Leather Ketoh
Coral Kingman Turquoise Leather Ketoh handmade by unknown artist. This striking ketoh features bright red coral and kingman turquoise set in sterling silver. The ketoh is 4″ inches by 3″ inches and on brown leather.
Kingman Turquoise originates in the Mineral Park Mining District near Kingman, Arizona. One of the largest domestic turquoise mines, it is found in a large open pit copper mine in the high desert country. The Kingman Mine district was first mined by Native Americans; it was part of the most extensive prehistoric workings in Arizona.
However, modern production of turquoise dates back to the 1880’s when James Haas rediscovered the area. Natural Kingman Turquoise ranges in color from light to very dark blue and sometimes tints of green. Matrix can range from white, light brown to black and frequently flecked with pyrite and occasionally quartz. The most famous stones from this mine are rounded bright blue nuggets with black matrix. Few turquoise mines produced nuggets, especially of this quality. In its high-grade form it has always been considered among the top quality American turquoise. This high blue color has become a “color standard” in the industry, reflected by the name “Kingman Blue”. However, much of the turquoise from Kingman occurs as seams, masses and veins, rather then in nugget form. Besides the nugget form, the most desirable Kingman turquoise is a deep blue with molybdenum pyrite; also, deep blue with pyrite as well as in a “bird’s eye” pattern with “water web” matrix.
The mine is currently owned & Operated by the Colbaugh family’s company, Colbaugh Processing. While old natural Kingman turquoise is rare, they have recently gone back into older sections of the Kingman mine and are bringing out some new natural Kingman Turquoise. Although there are quantities of this fine natural deep blue turquoise available, the largest percentage of turquoise mined at Kingman is being treated or stabilized. There are several other names for the turquoise coming out of the Kingman mining district: Ithaca Peak, Old Man Mine, Kingman Duval, Courtland, The Wall and Turquoise Mountain, just to mention a few.
Navajo Indian archers wore wrist guards called ketohs (GAY-toe) to protect their forearms from the snap of their bowstrings. Navajo silversmiths adapted the ketoh form into decorative jewelry.
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.