Red spiny oyster shell jocla earrings with flattened silver cones. Fashioned from the spines of Spondylus Brodnip Princep shells. Crafted by Louise Pete, first prize blue ribbon winner at the 1983 Gallup Inter Tribal Indian Ceremonial. Various salt water shells served as important trade commodities during the prehistoric Southwest, but the spiny oyster shells were especially the highly prized for their orange to red-orange color. Before the introduction of red coral by the Spanish during the 1600s, spiny oyster shell was an important source of that color. It surely had symbolic significance, perhaps similar to the color-directional symbolism among the Pueblo Indians where red represents east. When these earrings were purchased in 1983, John hornbek was the primary supplier of spiny oyster shells in the Southwest. On a somewhat regular basis he would travel to the Gulf of California, rent a boat, equipment and hire an experience crew of Mexican scuba divers. During the early 1980s this venture had become less lucrative due to the scarcity and great depths required to find the shells. The exceptional quality of these earrings can only be appreciated after seeing natural shells, which are primarily pale orange in color. Only the spikes yield the dark red-orange colored shell. A considerable number of large prime shells with thick spikes were required to secure enough material to fashion the beads for these earrings. The fine craftsmanship of the beads compliments the rarity of the high quality spiny oyster shell.
PERIOD: Last Half 20th Century
ORIGIN: Southwest - Navajo, Native American