Consumers generally purchase Native American jewelry because of its beauty. Some purchase their pieces while on vacation, but many others buy Native American jewelry online. The appearance of the pieces makes them enjoyable to wear, but learning the meaning of the items used to craft each pair of earrings, necklace, or bracelet makes the purchase even more enjoyable.
Appreciate the Earth
Genuine turquoise is valuable even today. Native cultures have frequently used this stone to embellish their jewelry, clothing, and housewares. They have done so partially because of turquoise's beauty but more because of its meaning. To them it has been a symbol of the water and the sky and an amulet that has the power to bring them protection and health. It is not just the stone itself but also its color that they have believed to have power.
Animals have been needed for their hides and their meat, but they have been much more than just a convenient resource to Native Americans. Many individuals had a totem animal that they identified with and studied for wisdom. Each animal used in genuine native jewelry has a specific meaning. For example, jewelry may contain an image of a buffalo to represent strength, a bear as a guardian, or a fish for good luck. Understanding common totems will help shoppers to select a charm or design that has meaning to them.
Feathers are readily available materials in nature, so it may seem as if they have been used for their convenience and beauty. Many native cultures around the world view feathers as a spiritual sign with a deep meaning. To Native Americans, feathers are a message from their ancestors—given to the birds because they spend so much of their time near the Heavens. Feathers have also been used by tribes to reward strength and wisdom. Tribal members have not collected and kept their own feathers. They have been given to them by elders who have felt they have earned them.
Beads have been a symbol of status and have been used to adorn baskets, clothing, and jewelry, among many other items. They have been made of a variety of materials, including wood, turquoise, and shells. Some have been left bare and smooth, and others have been carved with images that, when combined with others, could tell a story. Shells, both seashells and turtle shells, have been used in craft projects and traded along with beads. They have been used by tribes as a form of money, with the most common example being the beads made from quahog shells known as wampum.
Handcrafted Native American jewelry bought online or elsewhere makes a meaningful gift when people understand its symbolism and history. It is a wonderful way for anyone with Native ancestors to connect with their past or to pass on their knowledge to children. Understanding the meaning will add value to each item even if it is only purchased because of its uniqueness and beauty.Share