Old Pawn Native American Squash Blossom Necklaces
The squash blossom was borrowed from Spanish silver ornament, although Europeans knew it as a pomegranate flower. Pomegranate trees are not native to America, so the squash flower was probably the closest correlate in Native experience and, as a critical food crop, its blossom certainly was worthy of being wrought in silver. Zuni smiths eventually applied turquoise to squash blossom necklaces and the Navajo then followed suit.The crescent-shaped pendant called naja (NAH-zha) is an ancient symbol, used for centuries around the Mediterranean and across Europe. In the 19th century, it was commonly used by both Plains Indians and the Spanish as a bridle ornament that hung on the horse’s forehead. The Navajo, who made silver-mounted bridles by the 1880s, also used it in this manner, but by 1900, it was most commonly associated with the squash blossom necklace.