The Zuni people are one of the most distinct pueblo peoples in the United States, however they are not quite as well known for their fantastic jewelry making skills of Zuni bracelets, necklaces, etc. compared to the better known Navajo jewelry. However, just like their fellow Southwestern American Indian tribes, the Zuni are masters of metallurgy and make great Zuni bracelets. The history of the presence and craftsmanship is very long and well documented.
History of the Zuni Bracelet
Long ago when the Zuni first settled in their current lands approximately 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, a Zuni bracelet was little more than a piece of leather with feathers or handmade beads attached to it. But over time the design of even the simplest of Zuni bracelets began to become more complex. Stone beads began to have clan designs carved into them and the leather strands or rope began to be woven into new shapes and styles. This was the basic way that they created a Zuni bracelet or necklace for thousands of years before encountering the Spaniards.
When Spain invaded the Americas they brought their metal smiths with them to process gold and silver, as well as other precious metals. Smithing was taught to the Zuni who in turn used it to make Zuni bracelets and other jewelry. The Zuni bracelet was then able to take on a new type of traditional style. More stones like turquoise and red coral could be inlaid into the Zuni bracelet metal rather than strung on leather. A whole new way of showing of traditional designs in the form of the Zuni bracelet was created.
Today, the Zuni bracelet design is just starting to become as popular as those made by the Navajo. There are few Zuni smiths making Zuni bracelets but that is increasing every year. Many people love the traditional markings on a turquoise Zuni bracelet. They often are marked by the same symbols that have been found on Zuni pottery for thousands of years. It is something more unique among the Zuni that they share these sacred symbols on their jewelry with all.
A Zuni bracelet is also more likely to have a natural look and feel to it. Many Zuni bracelets have carved leaves, animals, and more that look very realistic. Some might say there is a fantastical element to the beauty of Zuni bracelets and other jewelry. Through history and thick and then, Zuni bracelets, jewelry, pottery, and culture all endure.