The beautiful jewelry made by Navajo artisans is appreciated by non-natives and natives alike. Common features in these pieces of jewelry are metals like copper and sterling silver, as well as additional elements like bone, beads, shell, coral, or, perhaps most famously, turquoise.
Not only is Navajo jewelry stunning to look at and wear, but it also holds deeper meaning through the use of symbols. Here are some of the most common symbols in Navajo jewelry along with their meanings.
In Navajo culture, depictions of the arrow represent the real-life object and its purpose: defense and protection. The arrowhead specifically is more symbolic of direction or alertness. Pieces of jewelry like these arrowhead earrings with turquoise can symbolize vigilance or awareness for the wearer.
The bear is a prominent symbol in Navajo culture. It appears in many places including jewelry, as with this bear design pendant. To Navajo people, the bear symbolizes strength and physical power. The wearer of Navajo bear jewelry might do so to represent their resilience and ability to overcome challenges.
The bear claw is a separate (but related) symbol to the bear itself. In Navajo jewelry like this sterling silver bear claw ring, the bear claw represents protection and power. Those who are looking to become leaders may choose to wear this symbol.
Butterflies are beautiful creatures that appear in many pieces of jewelry, but they take on a special meaning in Navajo culture. For Navajo people, the butterfly is symbolic of many things including transformation, peace or even everlasting life. As a result, pieces of Navajo jewelry like this handmade butterfly chain necklace can be very comforting and significant to the wearer.
The eagle is another symbol that shows up in a lot of Navajo imagery, including jewelry. Pieces like these eagle earrings with burnished silver and turquoise capture the majestic, powerful bird. As a Navajo symbol, the eagle is sacred and represents victory, strength and conquest.
The feather is another Navajo symbol that appears quite frequently in jewelry. Part of the reason for that is that feathers are very meaningful as well as beautiful. In Navajo belief, feathers symbolize honor, freedom, trust, power and wisdom. The feather is deeply revered. Those interested in these attributes might choose to wear Navajo feather jewelry like this feather pendant with sterling silver overlay or these feather earrings.
Beyond just being cute sea and land animals, turtles are also a powerful symbol for the Navajo. With their long lifespans, they represent longevity, the Earth and health. Wearing Navajo jewelry with turtles like these turquoise and sterling silver turtle earrings may help the wearer connect to the Earth and feel the full power of this common symbol.
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If reading about these Navajo symbols and their use in jewelry makes you interested in buying some of those pieces yourself, visit the Native American Treasures website today. We offer a wide range of quality Navajo Jewelry ready for you to treasure and enjoy. For tips and our latest updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram!