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An outstanding vintage Navajo silver
buckle by Jack Adakai, c. 1960’s-70’s
Jack Adakai (Active 1950’s-1980) is one of our very favorite historic Navajo silversmiths, a quiet, modest man, an unsung hero who lived and worked in the era before the internet, facebook, twitter and the like. He was well known and well regarded within his local area of Gallup in far Western New Mexico but he was far from the era of the “Famous Indian artist.” He did, however, teach one who is now perhaps the most world renowned and admired Navajo silversmith ever, his nephew McKee Platero. Platero apprenticed with Jack Adakai and you can see distinct echoes of Adaki’s work and artistic ideas in Platero’s subsequent work, for example the side by side comparison shown below of this Adakai buckle, c. 1960’s-70’s and a later McKee Platero buckle, c. 1990’s.
The overall large-scale design sensibility, extreme technical virtuosity, use of heavy silver, deep complex stamowrk multiple repuousees and the solid scale and feel of many of their pieces are all remarkably similar in attitude, look
and overall feel. Platero’s pieces just cost that much more today.
The buckle’s design is a traditional Navajo four-part or four sacred Mountains design scheme done in four beautifully repoussed silver panels radiating out from and around a central medallion panel which is done in a set of four smaller circular repoussees. The oval-shaped buckle measures a large scale 4" in width and is 3" in height. It weighs a substantial yet very comfortable 84 grams or 3 ounces and it will accommooate a belt strap of up to 2" in width.
The buckle is properly signed with Jack Adakai’s customary hallmark of his capital letters initials "J.A." on the back.
The buckle is in very good original condition with a considerable amount of age-appropriate wear which only makes it more beautiful and desirable in our minds, it has a fine rich, admirable patina from being well-loved and proudly worn.
You could easily be the next fortunate person to wear this iconic big silver beauty, a unique and striking historic
piece to be admired and treasured for many years.
Please note that the leather belt strap pictured here is for demonstration purposes only and is not included in
the sale of this buckle. If desired, we can recommend an excellent custom leather belt maker in Santa Fe.
At left, Navajo silver buckle by McKee Platero, Jack Adakai's nephew and former apprentice, c. 1990. At right, Navajo silver buckle by Jack Adakai, c. 1960's-70's.