Southwest Traditions:
Origins of Traditional Navajo Jewelry

Turquoise ornamented many kinds of traditional jewelry. Simple pendants were the earliest earrings in the Southwest, a style still used today. Later, small loops of beads called jacla were worn. Jacla were sometimes looped over a bead necklace when not being worn as earrings. Ketoh is the Navajo word for bowguard, a cuff that protects archers from the recoil of the bowstring. Ketohs are also worn decoratively.

The squash-blossom necklace is an emblem of the Southwest, but its origins come from the Old World. The crescent pendant, or naja, was originally a Moorish symbol introduced to the Southwest by the Spanish. The Navajo renamed it and the accompanying blossoms, which began as pomegranate flowers and became the regionally more-meaningful squash blossoms.

Jacla, prior to 1954 (Gift of H. Witter Bynner; 40433/12, Origin/Artist: Navajo)