Friday, February 21, 2014

Thunderbird Jewelry

Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center presented an exhibit entitled "Mosaic Patterns of the Thunderbird," featuring Thunderbird jewelry of the Santo Domingo Pueblo.

In the rotunda of the Cultural Center is this statue of Po'pay created by the sculptor Cliff Fragua.
In his life’s journey and commitment to his people, he became a religious leader and was responsible for traditional religious activities. In his role as a religious leader, he was aware of his people’s suffering under Spanish settlers. Pueblo people were forced to provide labor, food and other items to support the growing Spanish communities. The Spaniards also pressured the Pueblo People to convert from Pueblo religion and way of life…to adopt Christianity—those Pueblo people found practicing their traditional Pueblo religion were tortured and in some instances, executed.
In 1675, Po'pay and 46 other Pueblo leaders were convicted of “sorcery” and he was among those who were flogged, while others were executed. In 1680, Po'pay organized the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish. It has been said that this was the first successful revolution against an oppressor on North American soil.

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 holds great historical significance because it helped ensure the survival of Pueblo cultural traditions, land, language, religion, and sovereignty while preserving a respect for life, harmony, peace and freedom.

We then moved to the gallery featuring a collection of Thunderbird jewelry donated by Santo Domingo jeweler, Martine Lovato on behalf of his late wife Rita Levine Lovato who over the years had collected the jewelry on display.
“The arts in New Mexico during the Great Depression have a unique history…. In the towns and villages, jobs were declining, agricultural activity dwindling, and local economic activities deteriorating…. During this period, unique forms of art emerged from the necessity to provide families and communities with livelihoods.
“Santo Domingo jewelers…struggled to feed their families. Thunderbird jewelry evolved during this time. This innovative and creative art form developed in part because of the difficulty in obtaining expensive precious metals. Out of necessity, these jewelers became very resourceful in choosing materials for the thunderbird motif
“…The thunderbird art form is deeply rooted in the culture; while it contributed to the survival of families financially, it was also a way in which parents and grandparents could blend art form with the Pueblo core values of love, respect, empathy, and understanding. The work became a path that both encouraged young people’ curiosity and taught them a valuable skill.
"Children were often sent to look for “found objects” for use in making the jewelry. Among such items were discarded car battery casings, available plastics, bones, wood, and gypsum rock. These things could often found along railroad tracks, dump sites, and roadside stops. Common household items were also valued, such as broken phonograph records, discarded toothbrushes, combs, and plastic kitchen utensils.
“Early mosaic materials were glued with piñon sap, which was later replaced by glucose cement and the more general Duco Cement that adheres to glass, ceramics, china, wood, and metal.
"The finished pieces were buffed with leather strips and hung on cotton string. Each item was carefully crafted with the pride of workmanship that rivaled any other fine art form" (display information).

“It is known that generations of family members contributed to the completion of the thunderbird jewelry. Someone had to heat and cut the thick black car battery casing, which is the thick black substrate of much of the jewelry.
"The individual pieces of plastic had to be cut, and each bead was hand-crafted to a uniform length and width.
“Earlier works were made without the use of modern day electrical tools, such as a drill press or grinder. The time and effort it took to make a strand of beads meant time spent using rough stone slabs with discarded inner tubes to grind the gypsum down and a pump drill to make holes in the cut gypsum. This was no easy task, so it makes sense that many family members assisted in some way during the process.
“Keep in mind that in the early days, these necklaces were being sold for $3.00” (display information).

(I overheard one person saying that some of the pieces are valued at around $1500.)

Also, in a nearby display are these more recent jewelry creations.


eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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