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A magnificent Hopi silver “height” bracelet
by Verma (Sonwai) Nequatewa, c. 2015
VERMA (SONWAI) NEQUATEWA (b.1946) like her renowned Uncle and mentor, the great Hopi jewelry artist, Charles Loloma (1921-1991), exists on an entirely different artistic level than everyone else does and when Verma winds up her mojo and makes a major masterpiece as she very clearly did here, it is something to behold indeed.
This bracelet is truly a force of nature; an extraordinary artistic expression encapsulating all the power and beauty and majesty of the rugged and ancient Southwestern landscape in a stylized and Modern presentation.
The broad large slab inlays of smooth deep-brown desert ironwood and reddish-brown cocobolo wood are perfectly accentuated all the way around the bracelet by several various other areas of inlay in different sizes and configurations composed of a dazzling array of different precious stones from four or five varieties of turquoise including rare Lone Mountain and Nevada Blue spiderweb to purple sugilite, red and pink coral, blue lapis lazuli, white, tan and brown fossilized Mastodon ivory and white shell combined with no less than 11 gold and 3 silver spacer bars of various lengths and sizes all meticulously combined and placed in different areas of the bracelet at varying heights and widths to an incredible overall effect. Each of the ten or so small areas of inlay is like its own miniature oasis, a multitude of beautiful, tiny multi-colored three-dimensional paintings scattered across the vast smooth dark wood landscape of the bracelet’s surface.
In our 35-plus years of dealing with Charles Loloma and Verma Nequatewa’s work, we can say without hesitation that this piece is undoubtedly one of the finest, most impressive and significant pieces of hers (or of Loloma’s as well, for that matter) that we have ever seen and all the more remarkable that Verma was capable of making such an extraordinary, complex and extremely physically demanding large-scale piece as this one at some 65 years of age, after already having been making jewelry for 45 long and very hard-working years.
The bracelet on display at The Heard Museum’s Sonwai retrospective exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona, October, 2018
The importance of this particular bracelet to Verma’s lifetime body of artistic work was officially and appropriately recognized in 2018 by its inclusion in the Heard Museum’s recent retrospective Verma Nequatewa exhibition entitled, “Sonwai, Jewelry of Verma Nequatewa” which ran from October, 2018 through March, 2019. A photograph of the bracelet in the museum’s exhibition display is included above. We were very proud to have another Sonwai bracelet of ours included in this exhibition as well.
The bracelet measures a full 2” in width most of the way around tapering slightly to 1 5/8” in width at the terminal ends and it rises 11/16” in “height” above the wrist at its highest point. The inner circumference end-to-end is 5 5/8” and the gap between the terminals is 1” for a total interior circumference of 6 5/8”. The bracelet weighs a very substantial198 grams or 7 ounces, nearly a half-pound of incredible goodness. The bracelet is in excellent original condition overall, there are a couple of slight surface scratches and a tiny ding here and there but nothing that could be characterized as damage. The bracelet is properly signed “Sonwai” in Verma Nequatewa’s customary signature on the interior and it is also hallmarked with her characteristic hummingbird insignia.
This is a totally unique and exceptional piece; a major work by one of the world’s most accomplished and
important Native American artists and true living treasures; a masterpiece in every way and one stupendously irresistable-looking piece of jewelry. You walk into a room wearing this baby and everything just stops; the music, the conversation and everybody just stares wild-eyed in shock and amazement. WOW!
Price available upon request
Verma Nequatewa in the process of making this bracelet in her jewelry studio at Hotevilla village on the Hopi Third Mesa, c. 2015
Verma Nequatewa greeting guests at the opening of
The Heard Museum’s Sonwai exhibition, October, 2018