Arts of the Americas
On View: South Gallery, 1st Floor
In their creation story, the Navajo entered the upperworld—the earth—and found a vast expanse of water. With coral-tipped turquoise shovels they dug channels, draining the water and revealing the land. In fact, turquoise is the most frequently mentioned precious material in the accounts of their origins.
Turquoise is carved into beads and used as whole stones for personal adornment, powdered to make sand for sand paintings, and mixed with water to make paint. The blue color represents water, a precious resource in the southwestern desert. Turquoise is found in every aspect of Navajo peoples’ lives.
Coral, silver, turquoise, cloth
Gift of Marjorie Ruth Wagner
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Navajo (Native American). 6-Strand Necklace, ca. 1920s. Coral, silver, turquoise, cloth, 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Marjorie Ruth Wagner, 71.57.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 71.57.1_side_installation_PS5.jpg)
installation, 71.57.1_side_installation_PS5.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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This spectacular necklace is made from coral and turquoise beads, several loops with one black pendent stone. Length is for necklace closed.
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