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A beautiful tufa-cast silver and carnelian ring entitled “Hopi Butte” by Eveli Sabatie
c. late 1980’s-early 1990's
ex: Eveli Sabatie Collection, Tucson, AZ
This striking ring has a most fascinating story behind it. When we discussed it at length with Eveli Sabatie (b.1940) in a personal meeting, she immediately described it as being “The Hopi Butte” ring. The Hopi Buttes are a very distinctive set of large standing volcanic rock formations consisting of over 300 volcanic craters located in Northern Arizona near the Hopi mesas. When one travels along Arizona state highway 264 from Kykotsmovi or “New Oraibi” village to Hotevilla village on the Hopi Third Mesa one can clearly see the distinctive shapes of the Hopi Buttes in the distance off the right side of Third Mesa and you can easily see that one or more of these buttes resembles almost exactly the precise way in which Eveli shaped the lovely red carnelian stone in this ring. The particular butte in the ring may be the so-called “Chimney Butte” pictured here or it may be more of Eveli's personal stylized artistic depiction of a Hopi butte.
The distance from Kykotsmovi Village to Hotevilla Village and back is around 14 miles roundtrip. Eveli told us that she would regularly walk this entire route to come to work each day at Charles Loloma's studio in Hotevilla from where she was living in Kykotsmovi and in so doing would pass by the panoramic view of the Hopi Buttes each time. The buttes are magnificent and mysterious landscape forms, changing in their appearance and color with the time of day, the seasons, the weather and the particulars of the light and clouds.
There is an important technical issue existing with the ring which must be carefully considered. Our expert jewelry repair person in Arizona was a longtime former professional colleague of Charles Loloma's and now of Verma (Sonwai) Nequatewa’s and he is extremely familiar with Loloma, Sonwai and Eveli jewelry having seen and worked on a great deal of it over the past 30 some years. He examined this ring thoroughly at our request and told us that in his abundance of caution opinion the large carnelian stone is in a somewhat fragile and unstable condition from internal faulting and he advises that the ring should only be worn very carefully and sparingly, if at all, because he believes the internal faults in the stone could cause it to come apart should it suffer a significant impact or impacts. It is also his considered opinion that the ring should not be re-sized due to the instability of the stone.
Thus, in our view, the ring should be considered as being more of a “collection” or “display” type of piece than a regularly wearable piece of jewelry and the price clearly reflects that. As can be seen in the photos here, the ring displays very beautifully on a black velvet ring display stand and we will include the stand pictured here along with the purchase of the ring. Ironically, other than the internal instability of the Carnelian stone, the ring is in excellent and beautiful original condition.
The ring does have this issue, but, nevertheless, it’s still an absolutely gorgeous and uniquely historic, sculptural piece with a marvelous story arising from, inspired by and connecting closely to the Hopi landscape and what’s more, it’s distinctly and completely Eveli Sabatie at the height of her considerable powers. Very much like Eveli herself, this ring is a “monumental” piece of artwork in a small package. We simply do not know of anyone else with the imagination or creativity to have imagined or made this piece. The ring also has an impeccable, absolutely perfect provenance; it came directly from Eveli Sabatie herself.
The ring is made of very beautifully tufa-cast silver, the variegated surface texture of which closely resembles the appearance of the rough scrubby desert landscape surrounding the Hopi Buttes area and Hopiland in general. The large central stone is a carefully chosen and hand-carved piece of lovely red-orange carnelian, which closely resembles both the color and layering of the butte's rock formations. The stone has a wonderful inner luminosity, almost seeming to glow from within.
The ring measures a size 6 on a professional graduated ring sizer and it fits on fingers ranging from size 5 1/2 to size 6 1/2. The “height” of the ring rises 1” above the top of the finger and the ring weighs18 grams or 5/8 ounce. The ring is properly signed “EVELI” on the interior with her customary all-caps signature.
At left, Eveli Sabatie making jewelry in her Santa Fe studio, c. 1970‘s. At right, Eveli's view of the Hopi Buttes on the road from Kykotsmovi Village to the Loloma Studio at Hotevilla Village on the Hopi Third Mesa.
Left photo source and © Richard Smith
View of the Hopi Buttes in Northern Arizona.
Photo source and © lurig.altervista