R.H. BEGAY Vintage Navajo Inlaid Thunderbird Cuff Bracelet
Roland Hogan Begay (R.B.H.) is an award-winning Navajo silversmith who was born on a Native American Reservation near Gallup, New Mexico. He began producing his own signature designs in 1974 after learning silversmithing from his father. Inspired by traditional Native American motifs from Navajo life, his unique jewelry designs are known as "storyteller jewelry." He uses an overlay technique to create scenes, cutting out shapes with painstaking precision, and soldering them to an oxidized silver or gold background. The designs often incorporate a variety of colorful natural materials that are either raised or inlaid into the surface, such as turquoise, coral, and shell. Popular with Navajo and storyteller jewelry collectors, Begay has made a name for himself as a prominent designer!
In Native American culture, the Thunderbird is a legendary creature that is recognized among multiple tribes. Although the myths vary from one tribe to another, the Thunderbird always possesses supernatural power and strength, and was generally believed to have sovereignty over the skies, rain, and thunder.
This vintage Navajo Thunderbird bracelet is a wonderful example of Roland Hogan Begay's work! The fantastic piece is incredibly detailed and very substantial in size. Central to the design is a beautiful Thunderbird motif, which is comprised of multiple inlaid materials that are set in silver. Each piece is hand cut and inlaid in a mosaic-like fashion, including vibrant blue turquoise, rich black onyx, natural coral, and shimmery mother of pearl. The Thunderbird has outstretched wings, tail feathers, a plum of feathers at the head, and a pointed beak. Twisted wire rope and beadwork accents add further dimension to the piece, and two chevrons with inlaid stones frame the bird at the center. The cuff bracelet is open in the back, and stamped within the interior is the authentic maker's mark, which reads "RHB." A dramatic statement piece, it would make an impressive addition to any collection!
Measurements: The bracelet's interior measurements are approximately 2 3/8" wide and 1 5/8" tall. It would fit nicely on an average/medium to large sized wrist. The Thunderbird centerpiece measures 2 1/2" tall and wide.
Condition: The bracelet is in excellent vintage condition. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the silver setting, and all of the inlaid stones are intact. There is a natural patina on the surface of the silver that adds to its authentic vintage appearance. Some of the stones have some light surface wear, which is normal for a vintage piece, but there are no significant chips or deep scratches.