Since prehistory Zuni artisans have been known for their exquisite lapidary. Even without power equipment, historical artifacts confirm that Zuni was one Pueblo that achieved skillful jewelry. A massive trading center for centuries, all roads have led to Zuni. “Bring the wife a jewelry treasure,” seems to have made Zuni prosperous. First encrusting stones and shells onto shell pendants, the Zuni are now famous for their incredible lapidary.
This Sterling Silver buckle is a fine example of vintage Zuni lapidary. First, the Zuni are also great silversmiths, so the silver channel work you see her is typical. But the cutting and setting of stones and shells is where the Zuni excell.
You can readily see on the back plate that a great deal of work has gone into forging the back plate and chanels. The border is thick and stout, a silver protective edge. The channels are random and known by a number of monikers such as fish scale and random patterns. But the shell work here is simply outstanding. How does an artist find just the right angle to cut the Gold Lip Mother of Pearl? The reflections are dazzling.
A belt swivel helps the buckle lay flat when worn, and the hook is stout. The artisan is Bonnie Bowekaty, and her “BB” hallmark is stamped into the silver. Made ca.1970’s.
A coin is shown for size comparison.