Turquoise Squash Blossom
This Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace from the 1940’s features stunning pieces of Morenci Turquoise.The necklace has 17 incredible pieces of the electric blue signature to the Morenci turquoise color. The necklace is 23″ inches long. The naja is 3″ inches around.
Morenci Turquoise is mined in southeastern Arizona. The Morenci Turquoise mine produced some of the finest Turquoise that has ever come out of the ground! It is high to light blue in color. Some rare highgrade is a super dark blue naturally. Morenci has an unusual matrix of irregular black pyrite that, when polished, often looks like silver. Morenci turquoise is well known because it was one of the first American turquoises to come on the market. It is also very well known for its high grade. The Morenci Turquoise mine also produces turquoise with a wonderful “Birdseye” or “Water Web” matrix pattern. Some of the Turquoise has rare quarts matrix. It is very difficult to obtain now because the mine is depleted. Morenci is a very collectible turquoise.
History of the Squash Blossom Necklace
“Squash blossom” is a term long been applied to a unique necklace produced by Southwestern Native American Tribes. It was first made by the Navajo and later by the Zuni and Hopi.
The term squash blossom was attached at an early date to the unusual bead, which has a flowering end. The Navajo word “Chil Bitan” means flower-like bead, or more literally translated, “bead which spreads out.”
However, the flower is not believed to be a squash blossom, and really does not resemble one. It is like a young pomegranate. The pomegranate was a symbol ofGranada, Spain, and Spanish and Mexican dandies wore a small silver version of this symbol to decorate their blouses, capes, and trousers.
Navajo Indians may have seen one of these decorations and incorporated it into a plain silver bead necklace. They had already borrowed the Spanish crescent moon and star symbol, which was worn on the horse’s bridle, on the center of the animal’s forehead. Navajo craftsmen simplified this theme, often to a plain crescent; in fact, the Navajo word for this ornament is “nazhahi” – now commonly spelled naja, which means crescent. The naja was first worn with plain silver beads, but later became a part of the distinctive squash blossom necklace.
The squash blossom has been explained in other ways. For example, Mrs. John Wetherill, the wife of an early trader on the Navajo reservation, is said to have contended that this bead was inspired by the tiny flowerets in the center of the common sunflower.
There is a resemblance here, but it is more likely that the young pomegranate, by way of the Spaniards, was the real inspiration for this bead. The term squash blossom will continue to be used as it is so well established.
It is unsure when the squash blossom was first used by the Navajo. On a drawing of a shorter-leafed type, Woodward has the dates 1865-1880, and the dates 1880-1937 for a longer-petaled style. However, when Washington Matthews described Navajo silvercraft in 1881 he makes no mention of this bead type, yet he describes in detail the plain bead and other pieces of this early date. Adair simply notes that the squash blossom “probably did not come into existence until sometime after 1880.”
Early photographs, several dated about 1890, show the squash blossom worn by Navajos. Navajo are the best known, for they have been the most productive of this piece and have maintained a purity of representation which Zunis and Hopis have not observed.
Zuni Indians often expose so little of the flower that it would not appear to be a squash blossom. Hopi Indians have produced relatively few of these necklaces, most of them in the Navajo tradition.
Also, both the Hopis and Zunis have substituted other types of design for the squash blossom so that distinct tribal styles have evolved.