Use of Native American Cuff Bracelets
Native American jewelry, including Native American cuff bracelets, reflects the cultural diversity of its creators. Cultural traditions and personal artistic vision determine the distinct character of jewelry. Native American cuff bracelets, earrings, pins, and necklaces were used for personal adornment.
Before a written language, jewelry became a means of communication conveying information between tribal members. Today, jewelry is an important statement of tribal identity. Native cuff bracelets varied with the location of the tribal group and available materials such as different hardwoods, metals, semi-precious to precious gemstones, bones, teeth and animal hides.
Native American Jewelry History
In 8800 BCE, Paleo-Indians living in the southwest drilled and fashioned shells and colored stones into pendants and beads. Possible marine shell beads dated to 7000 BCE were found inside Russell Cave in Alabama. Dating from 6000 BCE, Olivella shell beads were found in North Carolina. Copper jewelry was traded near Lake Superior in 3000 BCE. Poverty Point in Lousiana contained stone beads carved in 1500 BCE.
Development of Native American Cuff Bracelets
Southwestern Native American jewelry is dominated by turquoise and silver. The Navajo artists learned how to produce silver articles from Mexican silversmiths. Native American cuff bracelets crafted by the Navajo combined large pieces of turquoise on silver bands.
Copper, polished petrified wood, and pink coral were used to make cuff bracelets. Native American bracelets made of silver and turquoise are especially popular today. Beadwork secured on buckskin fashioned by the Navajos is also desired for Native American cuff bracelets.
The Hopi tribe were known for their overlay technique used in making silver jewelry. Their cuff bracelets fashioned sterling silver overlay in a bear paw design. The southwest tribes were noted for their lapidary art design in Native American cuff bracelets.
Lapidary continues to be a family tradition using channel and mosaic inlay. Smooth or naturally cut and polished cabochons made from coral, shells and gems are often decorated with green or blue turquoise. The Zuni Tribe created hand cut mosaics of corn maidens in rows or turquoise cabuchans with silver for Native American cuff bracelets.
The Iroquois sometimes used only silver to create cuff bracelets. The Cherokee and Iroquois fashioned silver butterflies, decorated with gold leaves for their cuff bracelets as well. The Tlintis in the Northwest region designed beadwork to use for their Native American cuff bracelets.