The bead usually made is shaped like a small thick button about one sixty-fourth to three-eighths of an inch thick, and one sixteenth to one quarter of an inch in diameter. To shape the bits of turquoise or shell in this way the worker strings his drilled fragments on a string with a knot at one end. He pushes them tight against the knot, holding them down with his thumb and winding the extra string around his hand. Then he proceeds to shape them, first by knocking off rough edges with a hammer then by rolling his column of beads back and forth over a sandstone slab. He may roll them with his free hand or with another piece of sandstone, or he may knot the string at both ends, hold it upright and roll between two pieces of sandstone. The sandstone is kept wet and some grit is sprinkled on it, just as in the smoothing of stone for axes. When the column of beads has been rubbed long enough they are all of a size and shape, like a pile of the peppermints called Life Savers.

This work is easiest with beads of white clamshell which are already fairly smooth on the two flat sides, and need only drilling and rounding. Such beads are still worn by pueblo people and their neighbors, the Navaho. Some people mistakenly call them wampum, not realizing that wampum is a word used by the Algonkins on the Atlantic coast, for a bead which was cylindrical, not flat, and which served for records and for money. Turquoise beads are harder to make than shell for they need smoothing on the two flat sides. They are often larger than the white shell beads and sometimes oval, with the hole at one end. You often see such oval turquoise beads strung at intervals among white shell disks, in a very effective arrangement.

Zuni silver and turquoise earrings

Plate V-7. Zuni silver and turquoise earrings.

We have already spoken of the elaborate pendants found in the ancient pueblos. These were made by gluing chips of turquoise, jet or shell to flat pieces of wood or to abalone shell, with pinyon gum. Pueblo people continued to make such pendants and even now they are seen at dances. Simpler ones, made with modern materials, are peddled on the streets of Santa Fe.

Zuni silver and turquoise bracelets

Plate V-8. Zuni silver and turquoise bracelets.


After the whites came, pueblo people learned to use silver, perhaps as early as the Navaho did. No one knows the exact date but the latest guess is a little after 1850. Their material was coin silver, generally Mexican pesos, which they melted in a home-made crucible and hammered on a tiny forge, made in imitation of those they had seem among the whites. They stamped it with dies mad2 from odd bits of old iron and one way to tell this old silver is that the designs are small and separate, each from a small die, instead of being grouped as they are when made from a complete modern die.

All the pueblos say they used to have silver workers-a surprise to those who think of this craft as Navaho specialty. They made the same objects as the Navahc: beads, buttons bracelets, bow guards, conchos, rings, and the horseshoe-shaped pendant, which, the students say, is an adaptation of the Spanish symbol to ward off the evil eye. One pueblo specialty was a little silver cross, never made by the unconverted Navaho. (Plate V-9)

Zuni was the pueblo which carried the art furthest and all experts can recognize the rings and bracelets which come from there, made in delicate openwork and loaded with turquoise in the old pueblo manner. Hopi began the work about 1890, taking its inspiration from Zuni. Lately, its workers are developing an individual style with designs taken from their own basketry or pottery. Other pueblos started and stopped but now almost all of them have one or more silversmiths making work for sale. Santo Domingo does a thriving trade.

The Arts and Crafts Board of the Department of the Interior is working hard to keep pueblo silver to a high standard and to advertise it all over the country. It is to be hoped that, when white people appreciate this interesting jewelry, pueblo families will not need to earn money by making little dolls out of commercial beads. For that is the situation today. It seems that the white tourist thinks all Indians used beads, and the pueblos are Indians. It does not matter that they never did beadwork like the Plains Indians. They send to New York-or a trader sends-for bright colored beads made in Europe and whole families sit all day long making them into little dolls representing cowboys and Indians- just to satisfy the white tourists.

Old silver necklace

Plate V-9. Old silver necklace, Rio Grande pueblos.

ueblo musical instruments

Plate Vl-l. Pueblo musical instruments: rattle made of a single shoulder of deer; rattle mode of tortoise shell with deer-hoofs attached to be worn behind the right knee in dance; notched stick, over which another stick is nibbed; "Bull-roarer,' a flat pitct of wood whirled on a long string; imitating the sound of rain; flute.