The squash blossom necklace is perhaps the most well known expression of Native American jewelry. The squash blossom necklace can be seen worn in Navajo celebrations and by Hollywood movie stars. Its development portrays a history of diverse civilizations. The squash blossom necklace can add a look of distinction, and owning one can be a great source of pleasure and satisfaction. First we will describe just what a squash blossom necklace is composed of.
The squash blossom necklace contains round silver beads, large flowering silver beads(or squash blossoms), and an upside down crescent(or "naja"), at the bottom of the necklace. The naja is and important part of the squash blossom necklace. However, the name "squash blossom" came to be by the signature beads used in the necklace. They spread out like a blossoming flower. The name probably originated from an Indian trader who knew the Navajo raised squash, corn and beans.
The squash blossom necklace came to be in an interesting way. The Indian trader who probably gave the necklace its name was actually mistaken. The "blossoms" actually were copied by Navajo silversmiths from Spanish-Mexican designs of silver adornments. They were used by Spanish colonial gentlemen on their shirts, capes and trousers. The "squash blossoms" were representations of pomegranates. A blossom is represented with long petals beginning to open, and a sphere at the base of the flower. The flower type beads translate in Navajo as "the bead that spreads out".
The second principal part of squash blossom necklaces is the inverted crescent or "naja". This symbol was seen by the Navajo on Spanish horse bridles. When the Spanish taught the Navajo metallurgy, it was made by the Navajo for their horses and in the squash blossom necklaces they began to develop. The naja came to the Spanish from the Moors who believed it protected them and their horses from evil. It was found even earlier as far back as the Paleolithic period. The book of Judges in the Bible mentions it as an ornament worn around the necks of camels, and it has been found in Phoenician, Roman and Crete civilizations. Thus a squash blossom necklace can evoke many historical images!
Squash blossom necklaces were first fashioned by the Navajo in the 1870s or 1880s. When the Spanish taught the Navajo silversmithing, it allowed this artistic expression of the Navajo to develop. Navajo silversmithing spread to neighboring tribes like the Zunis and other Pueblos. Different forms of jewelry like the squash blossom necklace began to be formed by the Southwest Native Americans. Among them all however, the squash blossom necklace arguably remains as the most well known expression. The squash blossom necklace is a thing of beauty, and carries a long history!