Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Navajo girl 'adorned'

Photo collage of a Navajo girl
Photo credit kohuhuoke
I share this image (s) of this Navajo girl dressed in post-Long Walk traditional attire. She wears the typical collared-shirt with long sleeves, tiered skirt, deer and cow hide moccasins and of course her turquoise jewelry adornments. She's perfect! Beauty-ful desert 'Indigenous Adornment."

'Relatives' in Mongolia

Mongolian women 'adorned' in traditional garments
Photo credit Tibet Travel via Instagram

I found this image of a Mongolian woman via a person I follow on Instagram. There are many reasons why I adore this photograph.

First, I see many of my own Navajo relatives in this woman, her facial features are pheno-typically like those I see in the desert southwest. In fact she reminds me of one of my good friends' oldest daughter.  Secondly, I admire her clothing she wears, it seems most of what she is wearing is made of fur and possibly reindeer skin. But above all, she is 'adorned' in beautiful turquoise earrings. And, she seems to be wearing some red ochre color on her cheeks. This kind of of application parallels what Navajos do also, as a way of protection from the sunrays, but we call it 'chii.' 

Many Navajo claim not affiliation with the Mongolian or the people of Tibet and other Asian cultures, but I have an open mind and therefore have found a plethora of cultural parallels that exist, especially in the area of traditional adornment practices.

But, please take this image for what it is, a look at the cultural and tribal ways of adornment, of creating beauty.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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Each item has a song, a prayer

Navajo made sterling silver stamped earrings
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

These are part of my earring collection and they are vintage earrings. I acquired these earrings from an elder Navajo woman who expressed to me that she could no longer wear 'dangle' earrings, so she wanted to sell them to someone who would appreciate them. I feel I was blessed to have purchased these from her, and now the story of these wonderful Navajo made earrings continues.

Make no mistake that every cultural jewelry item has a story, remember this next time you buy Navajo or Pueblo jewelry items. Each item has a song, a prayer that was sung or said when it was made. Indigenous cultural jewelry and associated items have a 'life' of their own it is said.

Navajo made turquoise and silver 'cluster' earrings

Navajo made turquoise and silver 'cluster' earrings
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2015

Wherever one travels in the world, that person will never see such Beauty in that of Navajo and Pueblo cultural jewelry. I make my case with these earrings I share with you. If you admire and enjoy such jewelry of the desert people, buy directly from the Navajo and Pueblo jewelers. By doing this you will ensure the jewelry is authentically designed and made by Indigenous people.

Turquoise 'adornment'

Turquoise 'adornment'

Everyday one should 'adorn' in turquoise. As a desert person my soul knows the blue of the stone, cultural memory reminds me that I must do this in order to be blessed. Truly, that is the way it is for many Navajo and Pueblo people.

2014 Miss Navajo Nation: Indigenous Adornment

Venaya pictured with 2014 Miss Navajo Nation, McKeon K. Dempsey

Recently I  was invited to be a part of the annual Restoring & Celebrating Family Wellness "Focus on Youth" Conference in Shiprock, New Mexico. During this even I was able to mentor Navajo Youth and work with many talented Navajo artists including, Keno Zahney, James Joe and Johnson Yazzie among others.

As we began our painting session, Miss Navajo Nation, McKeon K. Dempsey visited and assisted in preparation of the canvas we would all paint on. She stayed for the morning session and painted. I had the chance to talk with her and found that she is especially Art-minded.

She is an alumnus, as I am, of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. We had a great conversation about the Arts in Navajoland, or the lack of them in the lives of Navajo children. We also discussed the status of Navajo women in the Arts on the reservation, Miss Dempsey is a wonderful and very intelligent person who is representing the Navajo People, I am very proud of her as she is my 'lil sister' or shi'deezhi; in the Navajo way of K'e'.

I also expressed my work in 'Indigenous Adornment' and that I favored her Navajo jewelry she was 'adorned' in that day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



Despite turquoise’s close identification in the US with the Southwest, other parts of the world have long held turquoise in high esteem.

Non-Indigenous Realm-

Turquoise was used on the gold funeral mask of King Tutankhamen in Ancient Egypt.


The oldest turquoise mines in the world, operated for thousands of years, are in Iran.


The word “turquoise” comes from the French name for a beautiful blue stone they thought came from Turkey, but was actually from Persia.

Indigenous Realm- 

Turquoise is formed in arid regions by infrequent precipitation flowing through host rock and depositing minerals and salts. It is in these same regions – the US Southwest, central and northern Mexico, Andean South America, Tibet and Uzbekistan – that it is most valued as a gem stone.


The Zuni word for turquoise can be translated as “sky stone.” This link between turquoise and sky is also true outside the Southwest; for example, in Tibet, the sky is sometimes called “the turquoise of Heaven.”


Pueblo dancers wear turquoise regalia during the summer growing season to ensure rain.


The stone’s color ranges from white (called chalk), to deep blue, pale blue, florescent yellow-green, deep green, and everything in between, but it’s the color and shape of the matrix, the veins of the host rock that run through turquoise, that contribute to its prestige and value.


Turquoise is a soft stone and changes color as it is worn, becoming darker and greener. In many parts of the world it is believed that turquoise absorbs poisons and protect the wearer, or alternatively, that its color reflects the health of its wearer.


Shell and turquoise are often used together. Both allude to water, one based on origin and the other on color, with the pairing intensifying the water symbolism

Navajo thought-.


The Navajo link turquoise to protection and health. At birth, babies receive their first turquoise beads. The stone, in both whole and crushed form, is also included in puberty rites, marriage and initiation ceremonies, in healing ceremonies and other rituals. With the stone so intertwined with every stage of Navajo life, it is no coincidence that they are famed for their turquoise jewelry.

Source: http://www.indianartsandculture.org/

Way of Being.

In the Navajo world art
is not divorced from everyday life, for the
Creation of beauty and the incorporation of oneself in beauty represent
the highest attainment and ultimate destiny of man.. Beauty –h ózhó- is
the combination of all these conditions.
(from Language and Art in the Navajo Universe - G.Witherspoon)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

EarART earrings by Venaya Yazzie

EarART earring designs made by Venaya Yazzie

Earrings I make that are inspired by my original paintings.