Navajo squash blossom necklaces are one of the most recognizable types of Native American jewelry. Squash blossom necklaces were especially popular during the bohemian fashion craze of the 1970s, but are best known today for their Native American origins. The squash blossom necklace serves as a reminder of the close interaction between the Pueblo and Navajo Native Americans beginning in the 1800s. The necklace itself is Navajo, eventually adopted by the Zuni Pueblo, however, the Zuni were the first to incorporate turquoise into their creations, which became a method adopted by the Navajo.
What is a Squash Blossom Necklace?
A squash blossom necklace is made primarily from silver and turquoise (or other semi-precious stones) and may feature silver beads surrounding beads that look like they are blooming, hence the term “blossom.” It is said that these blossoms are fashioned after the pomegranate flower, seen on Spanish conquistadors. The horseshoe-shaped Naja is the focal point of any squash blossom necklace, typically strung at the bottom. Squash blossom necklaces predate English contact with Native Americans in the southwestern United States but are thought to be influenced by the Spanish. Squash blossom necklaces date as far back as the 1870s, and have remained fairly consistently popular throughout history.
What is the Naja?
The Naja is the horseshoe or crescent moon shaped pendant at the bottom of a squash blossom necklace. The Naja is thought to provide protection, and when there is a turquoise bead suspended in the middle of it, it is meant to symbolize a baby in the womb. Additionally, the Naja is thought to ward off evil spirits. Over time, and with each generation, the naja became more and more symbolic with various ceremonials. As most ceremonials were related to the agricultural cycle, the naja became associated with crop fertility.
Were Squash Blossom Necklaces Worn in Ceremonies?
While squash blossom necklaces were not worn for ceremonial purposes, they were often used as a display of wealth or status. The wealthier or more prestigious the wearer, the larger and more impressive the squash blossom became. When squash blossom necklaces originated, both the Native Americans and settlers would wear much of their wealth. Although the squash blossom necklaces were not worn for specific ceremonies, the Naja was still thought to protect the wearers from evil spirits, while the turquoise itself was also believed to bring strength and other positive properties.
Where to Buy Squash Blossom Necklaces
Palms Trading Company buys directly from Native American artisans who use natural turquoise along with gems in sterling silver settings to create squash blossom necklaces. Browse our online inventory or come into the store to see our authentic Native American Jewelry. Palms Trading Company has options to order online, or hire a Personal Shopper.