All-turquoise Rainbow Man brooch

Your thoughts please on this Rainbow Man pin! It’s unmarked, without attribution. Seller said it dates from the 1940s.

I did also post this to Historic Zuni Jewelry on FB. One person thought it’s from between 1945 into the 1950s based on the bezels. Several believed the turquoise to be Blue Gem. No guesses on who may have made it, however. And of course I may never know.

I’m particularly curious about

  • the straight up-down U-shaped “earrings”, each with two drops,
  • the long curved line of drops [raindrops?] coming from the figure’s left side.

I couldn’t find any examples of either in Toshio Sei’s book Knifewing and Rainbow Man in Zuni Jewelry. In fact, that graceful line was what first caught my eye.


working from your title “All-turquoise Rainbow Man brooch” I found these all turquoise earrings.
might be some further clues to explore



@chamekke That’s a beautiful Rainbow Man pin! The turquoise is simply gorgeous. I just checked my Zuni jewelry books but didn’t come across a pin similar to yours. Not sure about this being a Mid-Century pin. Most of the Zuni Rainbow Man jewelry I’ve seen is comprised of inlay work using turquoise + other stones ~ your beautiful pin is unique to me.

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Thank you for that link, @Steve! I’ll definitely check that out.

@Patina , yes, I’m not at all certain of the dating. (The respondent was basing it on the very fine sawtooth bezels; the Rainbow Man is 2 3/8” / 60mm at its longest point.) I’m happy with it whatever its age, though!

Incidentally someone once asked on an online blog when it was that pins/brooches started to incorporate a loop or bail for pendant use. They were knocked back (I think the blogger thought they were angling for a free estimate), but that question has lingered in my mind as it could be a useful line in the sand for dating purposes. This little guy doesn’t have any kind of pendant fixture.

I went on a long hunt for other all-turquoise Rainbow Men, and they do exist, but they are not that common either. I suspect when people think “rainbow” it generally involves multiple colours by definition, ha ha! Sei’s book on Knifewings and Rainbow Men didn’t include any all-turquoise Rainbow Men IIRC, and I haven’t seen any theories anywhere as to why someone would make a monochrome one! Perhaps purely a design choice.

Edit: Correction, Toshio Sei has several all-turquoise Rainbow Men! Oops! These include: a bracelet by Alonzo Hustito (p. 35), a bolo by Lambert Homer Sr. (p. 69 — although it’s a mosaic inlay whose background includes what looks like mother-of-pearl and jet), a channel inlay bolo by Lee Edaakie (p. 76), earrings by Leonard Martza (p. 114), a ring by Dexter Cellicion (p. 125), and a pin by Alice Leekya Homer (p. 134). Not to mention 2 or 3 all-turquoise Knifewings.

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I think it’s pretty amazing! I don’t think there’s anything about it that wouldn’t be correct for the 40’s/50’s. Another unusual characteristic is the torso being separated into two different pieces. I don’t recall having seen that before. Of course it could be as simple as not having a big enough piece of turquoise to make the proportions correct. The high rounded cut of the turquoise is kinda unusual too. It’s especially noticeable on the legs. It’s usually flatter on the top with a more abrupt rounding of the edges or a tighter radius if you will. All in all though it’s an excellent Rainbow Man that would definitely be a keeper for me!!


Really pretty pin. All-turquoise is seen sometimes in flush-inlay Zuni figural work. Lee Edaakie did several Knifewing and Rainbowman figures, pins and bolos, in all turquoise.

The silverwork has a Taxco look to it, with the balls and curves. Not saying it’s Mexican, just that it has a kinship.

Lee Edaakie (I’m not associated with this seller):


What gorgeous turquoise! Beautiful.

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That’s a very interesting question about when loops/bails began to be added to pins. I never thought about that before & agree the info could possibly help with dating a piece. Imo, whomever created your turquoise Rainbow Man pin hit a homerun!

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What a wonderful and unique find. The turquoise :blue_heart::blue_heart:


Good catch, thank you! Hadn’t appreciated that. So now I’ve been looking around but haven’t found another with that separated torso. I suspect you might be right about the constraints imposed by the turquoise! Now that you mention it, the artist saw fit to have the stream of drops (raindrops) emerging from the line between the 2 pieces, more or less at heart level. (I shouldn’t read too much into that, but I can’t help but see it as rain descending from the Rainbow Man’s heart, which is a rather lovely idea.)

Also I haven’t seen many Rainbow Men examples whose arms terminate in a squared-off fashion as these do. Most are ether simply rounded at the end, or taper to a rounded point. And then there are the short little legs bent at the knee, which look like rather perky booties. Curious.


The torso thing you mention: I see it as a deliberate design layout that brings the top of the torso in line with the arms horizontally, as opposed to a torso that functions visually only in a vertical way. Many Rainbowman mosaic inlay (and some flush inlay) pieces “read” horizontally across the torso’s top and arms. Examples:


@chicfarmer, thank you very much for your thoughtful observations. I was curious that the drops hadn’t been stamped, as that seems more typical (from my admittedly scanty research!). I’d been assuming they were meant to be raindrops, just possibly; but your point about the kinship with the Mexican style is a good one. Perhaps there is some influence there!

Thank you also for the link on Lee Edaakie, I look forward to reading that and learning more :slightly_smiling_face:

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@Patina, thanks for your kind words! And if I ever hear anything about when the pins-to-pendants shift happened, I will definitely share it here.

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Thanks for these links and a very intriguing hypothesis, @chicfarmer! You’ve persuaded me. (Also, fabulous links!)

I love how an inquiry about one piece can lead to the flowering of all sorts of fascinating questions, observations and theories. I’m very grateful to everyone for this wonderful conversation.

That amazing Rainbow man in the first link is by Harry Deutsawe, he was one of the very best! I’ve had my eye out for more of those! I agree about the horizontal separation across the upper torso being a common thing, I just haven’t seen one in its own bezel before. But I like @chamekke’s idea of it being to let the rain out!


I’m not really into rainbow man…but I could make that one an exception. Great , meticulous bezel work and unique earrings and dots. All with gorgeous turquoise.


Thanks, @nanc9354 ! I really appreciate your kind words.

This is actually my very first rainbow man. It’s probably a little weird to start with a monochrome “rainbow”, but when I saw this piece, I just couldn’t stop admiring it. The rest is history :wink:

And thanks to this, now I’m a lot more curious about rainbow men, knifewings, etc., than I used to be. It’s funny how one piece can become a gateway to so many others…