Shoma Patnaik's Reviews > Navajo Silversmiths

Navajo Silversmiths by Washington Matthews
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's review
Sep 16, 11

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bookshelves: 2011, america, art, historical, non-fiction, american-indian, navajo
Read from August 29 to 30, 2011

This is one of the books I got from Project Gutenberg's Art bookshelf. I've always loved Native American jewellery from the South West United States but I especially love Navajo silver and turquoise and I was hoping this book would give me some insight into this art form.

The book is unfortunately, too short to give any details on Navajo silvercraft; not surprising since it is only a report. Washington Matthews is a tad patronizing but on the whole, he points out the inventiveness and hard work of the Navajo. His writing made me appreciate a whole new aspect of these craftsmen beyond their artistic achievements. As he points out, the Navajo silversmiths often worked with rudimentary tools, sometimes scavenged from Fort Wingate or Pueblo settlements. I think their refusal to be constrained by circumstances makes their work all the more impressive and really defines their artistic spirit. The next time I moan about not being able to afford Canson board or Sennelier oil pastels, I'll remind myself that the Navajo silversmiths used awls repurposed from broken knives and set up their own forges to make their works of art.

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