Zuni inlay with Navajo silver

I love this heavy mosaic inlay cuff I purchased from a friend years ago. Just recently I was looking through Toshio Sei’s book “Kachinas and Ceremonial Dancers in Zuni Jewelry” and found a very similar cuff. The piece in his book has a Knifewing in mother-of-Pearl, while mine has the Buffalo Dancer. Toshio states the inlay work was done by Anna Rita and Lambert Homer Jr. in the 1970s-80s, but he feels the silver work was done by a Navajo Silversmith. Anna Rita and Homer only did lapidary work, depending on others to set their pieces in silver. The heavy and “excessive” silver work on this piece is not typical of Zuni work and felt to be Navajo collaboration. Anyone have thoughts or other pieces done by Zuni and Navajo artists?


Your piece resembles this work by Elliot Qualo, I think.

I can’t tell if your guy’s face is entirely smooth or has tiny dots engraved for eyes, like this one.

Anyway, yes, Zuni and Navajo (and maybe Puelo) collaborative work goes back decades, capitalizing on the strengths of each community. I have one cuff myself that’s most likely a collab. That said, there are historic Zuni makers who did respectable silverwork combined with inlay, such as Alonzo Hustito. And Zunis who did advanced casting, like Dan Simplicio and Horace Iule. So the skills were in that community, and my understanding is that people in Zuni worked/work together pretty regularly.


@chicfarmer. Now that you mention it, I believe I have heard about collaboration between Zuni and Navajo silversmiths. But, it struck home when I saw a piece similar to mine, with similar heavy, un-Zuni-like silverwork, in Toshio’s book. I have several bolos by Elliot Qualo…in my opinion, his (Qualo’s) inlay is much more detailed than the inlay work in my cuff. Other inlay by Anna Rita and Lambert Homer Jr. I’ve seen are also less detailed than Qualo’s. And I certainly agree that Zuni had (and has?) talented silversmiths…my favorite, of course, is Dan Simplicio. I Guess I had never realized that some Zuni jewelers did not do even basic silversmithing. Your thought that many jewelers worked together regularly makes sense. Thanks for your input!


It was pretty regular practice for Navajo Silversmiths to buy Zuni Inlay to put in their bracelets if they wanted something other than a piece of turquoise - especially when Zuni was all the rage.

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Wish I had some indication as to the silversmith who did this cuff. Stylistically, It appears to be the same silversmith as the cuff in Toshio’s book. So, evidently Anna Rita and Lambert Homer Jr. used him for more than one of their MOP inlay. But, since Toshio didn’t know the Navajo silversmith, likely I’ll never know!