During the Depression members of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico (frequently misspelled Santa Domingo) created wonderful necklaces from a variety of found materials. As the ultimate recyclers, they often used car battery casings, bakelite or plastic records, natural turquoise, bone, shells, and any other bits of scrap materials that fit their needs. This delightful necklace is made by a member of the pueblo using these types of scrap material.
This necklace measures approximately 18 inches around. A thunderbird pendant hangs at the midpoint and measures about 1 3/4 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide. Spaced along the length of the necklace are 10 wonderful “beads” representing feathers, each approximately 1 inch long. The backings on the pendant and each feather bead are pieces of black battery casing. The fronts of each bead and the pendant are decorated with red and white materials of unknown origin (probably plastic) with accents made from small pieces of turquoise set into some sort of a glue matrix. The small tube beads along the length of the piece are made from gypsum a commonly used mineral in this type of necklace. The piece is strung on cotton cord. It does appear that the piece is all original and has never been re-strung. There is a hook and eye clasp that is original to the piece. It is in very good aged condition with all of the pieces present. Necklaces such as this are highly prized by collectors and have been the subject of much research over the years due to their symbolism and the creative use of discarded items. In recent years a major exhibit of these necklaces was shown at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg. They seldom come to market but when they do they are usually very expensive.
Included with this necklace is a Certificate of Authenticity issued by Dr. Mark Sublette, owner of Medicine Man Gallery located in Tucson, AZ and Santa Fe, NM. The certificate has a photograph of the necklace along with descriptive details, age of the piece which is 1930 and its retail price in 2010 which is $460. Collectors of southwestern Indian art are familiar with Medicine Man Gallery as being one of the foremost dealers and authorities on early silver, jewelry, Navajo rugs, and pots. (Check out his website for more details.) Having this document with the photograph and details of the piece helps to establish how special and unique this item is.
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