Turquoise (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Turquoise was made into jewelry used in burial ceremonies and was an important trade item in Mexico and the Southwest
Turquoise is a carbonaceous mineral that was prized by many Native American groups primarily for its bright blue-green color. Major turquoise sources were located throughout the American Great Basin, the Southwest, and western Mexico, and turquoise was traded extensively throughout the western United States and Mexico.
As early as 300 b.c.e., the Anasazi Basket Maker culture as far north as Utah worked turquoise for jewelry, which was commonly interred in burials, and traded it as far south as central Mexico. Native American craftsmen from the American Southwest traded turquoise for shell from the Gulf of California and the Pacific coast. Turquoise was frequently worked into thin tesserae used in mosaic inlays over shell ornaments. Similar mosaics covered burial masks from the central Mexican site of Teotihuacán during the fifth and sixth centuries, as well as later Aztec and Mixtec sculpture. By 1000 c.e., large-scale Anasazi sites such as Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico contained specialized turquoise workshops and served as distribution centers for interregional turquoise trade networks. Modern Navajo and Pueblo artisans, particularly Hopi and Zuñi, have maintained a strong tradition of turquoise jewelry and carved fetish figures during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In...
(The entire section is 351 words.)
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