Trade Beads and Ketohs

Trade beads are ornate glass beads that were originally used by Europeans worldwide as a medium of exchange. Native American trade bead jewelry and adornments were popular with tribes across the North American continent, coming into use through trade beginning in the 1500s. Trade beads were common in the fur industry and Lewis and Clark also used trade beads to do business with the cultures they encountered on their three-year journey westward. Historic American Indian trade beads can be found today threaded onto string for earrings or necklaces or plaited into braided adornments such as chokers. Occasionally, coins and silver beads are combined with Native American trade beads to make stunning jewelry. A ketoh is the Navajo word for bow guard which is a protective wrap for the forearm, designed to protect an archer from the recoil of a bowstring after an arrow is released. Navajo ketohs are comprised of a leather protective band decorated with silver embellishments. While ketohs started as functional items they grew into items worn simply for personal adornment. Old Pawn ketohs may be made with sand-cast (or tufa cast) silver or hand-stamped by pounding the silver into dies. Many versions include inset turquoise.

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