Turkmen Are Many

The beauty of Turkmen jewelry engages the imagination – as well as a curiosity to know exactly how all this lavishness came about.

While large size is the hallmark of Turkmen tribal jewelry, many nuances distinguish the different tribal origins of individual pieces.

Wiki flag


The Turkmen comprise more than 20 distinct tribal groups. Of these, the most celebrated are the Teke (Tekke), Ersari, Yomut, Choudur, and Saryk – so celebrated that they are memorialized on today’s Turkmenistan Flag, represented by 5 stars and 5 respective carpet designs.

Tekke Turkmen Jewelry

To many people, Tekke (Teke) is the archetypal form of Turkmen tribal jewelry. It is characterized by a thin layer of gold-wash (gilding) that highlights symbolic designs on an underlying silver base. Teke pieces are almost always studded with oval-shaped, vibrant-red carnelian or glass beads set in raised bezels.Tekke

Tekke jewelry is highly artistic, with stylized birds, flames and spiritual creatures etched into the gold-highlighted silver surface. Borders of rams horns, bird heads, or trefoil motifs frequently run along one or more edges, with long clattering chain-dangles hanging below to make a wonderful sound with movement.

Teke jewelry is usually constructed in 3 dimensions, with 2 silver layers (front and back) separated by a hollow space in between. Given the enormous size of Turkmen jewelry, this technique allows for the piece to be more light weight and easier to wear than if it were completely solid.

Teke Turkmen jewelry is extraordinarily beautiful, and highly prized by collectors. It is one of my absolute favorites.

Ersari Turkmen Jewelry  Ersari

In contrast to the ornate Tekke flourishes, the jewelry of the Ersari Turkmen is elegantly understated – at least by Turkmen standards. It is still grandiose, but with a more subdued surface treatment, which generally consists of a single or 2 intersecting lines spanning the entire piece. The remainder is left unadorned, except, of course for the obligatory Turkmen eye-shaped beads and dangles.

In many ways, making Ersari Turkmen jewelry is an extremely challenging achievement. It has an unforgiving artistry, relying as much on the spaces between the design elements as on the elements themselves. Balance and precision are a must. Each line and bead is meaningful and precise.

While some less refined Ersari pieces have endured, old Ersari Turkmen jewelry pieces with quality construction are getting harder and harder to find. Whenever my Turkmen friends in Central Asia find some for me, I post them on my Tribal Muse websites to show.

Yomut Turkmen Jewelry


If Ersari jewelry is understated, then Yomut Turkmen jewelry is over the top. This is the most ornate and lavish of all the Turkmen tribal jewelry traditions – and the most captivating. It is easy to stare at Yomut pieces, wondering how in the world these people made such extraordinary jewelry using the simplest of tools. I still do not know how it was possible for them to do it.

But they did. Yomut jewelry, like other Turkmen jewelry is big, bold, and laden with symbolic cultural meaning. But it goes beyond that. Way beyond that.

Yomut Turkmen jewelry pulls out all the stops. In its most flamboyant form, a piece of Yomut jewelry may be gilded entirely with gold, embossed, studded with multi-colored beads, and haphazardly adorned with numerous decorative plaques and medallions fused to the surface.

Of course not all Yomut pieces are quite so elaborate. Some may have only one or two of those attributes, the most notable being the fused decorative plaques or stylized rams horns. Regardless, Yomut Turkmen tribal jewelry is extremely collectible, and breathtakingly beautiful.

Next Up

If Turkmen jewelry intrigues you as much as it intrigues me, then my next blog entry may be enticing. In Part III of this series, I explore cultural symbolism as seen through the lens of Turkmen tribal jewelry – one of my favorite topics!

Turkmen jewelry style Collage

Please join me for the next installment – and anytime to share your comments and experiences. I would love to hear from you.

What is Tribal Muse?

You can see my tribal jewelry pieces at Tribal Muse and Tribal Muse on Etsy. Tribal Muse is now on Facebook too…please visit! Oh, and you will also find Tribal Muse on Pinterest. Enjoy.

Andrea @ Tribal Muse www.tribalmuse.com and www.etsy.com/shop/TribalMuse

Native American Indian Jewelry and Traditions: Part II

Native American Jewelry use


Southwestern Native American tribal jewelry is synonymous with quality – and rightfully so.

We have several great pieces to choose from at Tribal Muse @ http://www.tribalmuse.com

Navajo Jewelry – Southwestern Treasure

Perhaps the most celebrated of all Native American Jewelry is that of the Navajo tribe, with its boldly inscribed silverwork and generously-proportioned nuggets of locally-mined Turquoise. These wonderful pieces are often of impressive size, with large pendants hanging from one or more beaded strands.

The Navajo are masters of the Concha and the beautiful Squash Blossom Necklace with its inverted-crescent Naja pendant suspended from a chain rimmed with squash flower buds.                                                                       PicMonkey Collage

Precision Among the Santo Domingo Native Americans

The notable Santo Domingo (or Kewa Pueblo) Jewelry is famous for its tiny, precisely made shell-beads called heishi (today the term heishi describes similar beads of any material).

Kewa Pueblo heishi is distinguished by its smooth feel when you run it through the fingers. This is because Pueblo carvers buff the outside surfaces of each bead against a turning wheel, shaving away any barbs or irregularities until only a smooth surface remains. Some say that today’s Kewa Pueblo (Santo Domino) Indian Jewelry is the most refined of all the Native American Tribal Jewelry traditions.

The Zuni Bring Needlepoint to Jewelry

Zuni Needlepoint

Meticulously made Zuni Jewelry contains small lozenge-shaped beads arranged in delicate-looking designs, sometimes called “needlepoint.” Silver usually plays a secondary role, since the Zuni prefer working with stone or shell to create patterns that mimic those found in nature.

Zuni jewelry is relatively light-weight and painstakingly crafted. The Zuni also produce hand-carved stone animal fetishes and superb channel inlay jewelry.

Elusive Beauty – Hopi Jewelry

Although the Hopi are among the oldest makers of Native American tribal jewelry in Northern America, they are comparative newcomers to the contemporary Indian tribal jewelry market. Recognized for their precise overlay technique, Hopi jewelry is handcrafted by fusing 2 pieces of silver together so that a cut-out design appears in contrasted relief. Their jewelry is often difficult to find since fewer pieces are made.

Watch Out for Imitations

Since 1999, it is illegal in the USA to claim that a piece of jewelry is Native American Indian Southwestern JewelryJewelry when it is not. That is why all the Native American Tribal Jewelry pieces on Tribal Muse are certified. Similar-looking pieces that are not so certified are identified as “Southwestern Jewelry” in their descriptions, and not as Native American Indian Jewelry.

Thinking About Native American Jewelry?

I would love to know your experiences with Native American tribal jewelry and my blog. Share a comment or send an email anytime.


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Andrea @ Tribal Muse http://www.tribalmuse.com







Early Native American Jewelry Traditions


What Do You Think Of?

Most people probably visualize lots of ornate silver with turquoise when they think about Native American tribal jewelry. Surprisingly, North American Indian artisans did not start using this style until the 1800’s when they learned it from the Spaniards. It was not initially Native American at all, even though today many Indian tribal jewelry artisans fully embrace it.

Native Americans certainly wore jewelry before the arrival of the Europeans. In alignment with nature, they used the natural materials to make meaningful ornaments and beads.

How Did They Do That?

With their primitive tools, the process was a pain staking and time-consuming process. They meticulously handcrafted each bead from antler, shell, horn, bone, quills, feathers, claws, teeth, wood, and stone. These components provided the wearer with a spiritual connection to nature – and spirituality is a defining characteristic of all Native American cultures.

Except for the unique copper jewelry of the Great Lakes region, most of this early Native American tribal jewelry did not survive. Only a few isolated stone beads remain.

Trade Changed Everything.

Things changed when the Europeans arrived. They brought trade with them – and trade meant a steady supply of colorful, uniform, and plentiful glass beads. Native American crafts of all kinds- especially textiles and tribal jewelry suddenly acquired a new aesthetic.

Despite these changes, Native American artisans continued to integrate traditional symbols into their work. The exact symbolic meaning varied from tribe to tribe, but is enlightening nonetheless.

What Does It All Mean?

bearFor example, the bear was considered a cosmic guardian and fierce humming birdprotector by many tribes people. Birds carried prayers to heaven – especially the spirit bird depicted in flight. Kokopeli playing a flute assured the tribe of crops and babies. The three sisters – corn, beans, and squash – gave both spiritual and physical nourishment. These are just a few of the repeating symbols that continue to embellish Native American tribal jewelry even today.

NEXT: Some Native American Jewelry Traditions in North America Today

Send your comments and suggestions…I would love to hear from you!

Andrea @ Tribal Muse  www.tribalmuse.com


Turquoise for Your Thoughts? : History of Native American Turquoise Jewelry

native_american_jewelryTurquoise is one of the most prevalent stones used in Native American jewelry. Dating back to thousands of years ago, Native American tribes mined turquoise stones as they believed that it was a sacred stone. They designed masks and other accessories to decorate themselves with this amazing stone. In the 19th century, Spaniards taught Navajo American Indians to construct the turquoise and silver jewelry that remains their trademark today.

The color of turquoise, to the Navajo tribe, symbolized luck, happiness and health. These qualities led to the use of turquoise in many different aspects of Native American life for attracting luck and good fortune. Simple beads dating from around 7,000 BCE are among the first forms of jewelry found in the archaeological record from any Native American tribe. Originally, these beads were made out of shells or rocks. Over time, colorful stones and ornate construction gained favor, especially for tribal celebrations. Even during combat, Native American warriors wore impressive jewelry to show their superiority to the other tribes.

If you are looking to purchase certified Native American Indian Jewelry in Turquoise and Silver, visit us at TribalMuse.com. Our Jewelry was handcrafted by Navajo, Santo Domingo, and Zuni silversmiths. The artisan’s Hallmark (stylized signature) is on each piece. You might like our Southwestern Jewelry too.

Peru for You? : The History of Peruvian Jewelry

peruvian_jewelryThe Inca people are known for their crafting and jewelry making according to archaeologists. It has been found that countless examples of their intricate work have been found, bought and sold. The types of Peruvian jewelry include earrings, necklaces, pendants, nose rings, bangles and chest aprons. Here are a few facts about Peruvian jewelry.

  • Materials – The primary metal of Peruvian jewelry is gold. However, leather, gemstones and feathers were also use in their accessory pieces. Ornate pieces of gold, such as chest plates and crowns were also created at this time to symbolize wealth.
  • Wear – Usually, Incas of high class were the main wearers of the jewelry. However, over time, there was an influx of pieces worn by lower class people for special religious occasions or in times of war to reflect their superior status over the enemy.
  • Purchase – At this time it is becoming more and more difficult to find pieces of Peruvian jewelry. However, the trend of tribal inspired pieces continues to grow.

Are you looking to purchase Peruvian Jewelry? Check out TribalMuse.com, for the best selection possible at the most affordable prices. The items sold are all fair-trade and purchased to support local communities in Peru. Shop today to choose the historical piece of tribal jewelry you’ve been looking for!

Jewelry Patina – The Gift of Time

What is Jewelry Patina?

IMG_0084Patina on jewelry is a darkening on the surface of metal that occurs over time…the more time, generally the richer the patina.

It is the result of a natural oxidation process. Metals susceptible to patina formation usually contain some copper or iron.

The Array of Patina Colors Might Surprise You.

Patina can appear in a wide variety of colors, including red, brown, black, grey, blue, orange, purple, pink, beige and green. Here is are a few examples of some of the patina color out there, courtesy of Bronzeworks Precious Metal in Australia:

Patina from Bronzeworks in Australia

Oh Shiny! Why Not Remove Patina?

Surprisingly, patina acts as a protective layer, shielding the metal below against exposure and corrosion.

Patina is also intriguingly beautiful and if you remove it, it is gone forever.  It is prized by collectors and those who love old jewelry as testimony to years of loving wear and to unknown experiences that went before.

Many manufacturers today try to duplicate the look patina on new jewelry. Even though many of these pieces are very pretty, it is just not the same as the real thing.

Patina is a gift of time…and only the passage of time can create it.

Patina Seems to Say “Leave Me Alone!”

TarnishAt Tribal Muse we never remove patina, since to remove it would change not only the value, but also the character of a Makara Bracelets Pair D patinapiece.  Some of our items have been rub-polished to bring out their luster, without altering the presence of patination.

Unlike tarnish, patina is embedded into the upper layers of the metal itself, darkening the color through multiple molecular layers without destroying them. To eliminate all of the patina is a challenge, and limits the attraction of old pieces.

Usually, only a chemical bath can completely remove patina to result in a high-polish, if at all. Chemical treatments are not good for any jewelry, and are never recommended regardless of the age of a piece. It can make jewelry brittle and susceptible to other forms of deterioration down the road.

Although you might find some high-polish old jewelry on our website, the acid-cleaning occurred at the location of origin before arriving at Tribal Muse.

Here are a few images of our high-polish vintage jewelry:

PicMonkey Collage-chemically treated



High-Polish Chemically Cleaned Jewelry is still beautiful; it just has a different look.

Photographing Patina is a Challenge.

True patina often does not photograph well because of its natural sheen. In images, jewelry pieces with significant patina may appear lighter than they are to the naked eye. That is why it is a good idea to read the full descriptions whenever and where ever you buy old or vintage Tribal Jewelry to avoid patina surprises.

What’s What with Patina Identification?

At Tribal Muse, we identify the level of age patinas as follows:

Mild = Visible patina, may be rub-polished
Warm = Moderate dark patina, with a more noticeable darkening of the metal
Rich = Very dark patina, with heavy darkening of metal. May include verdigris

Here’s Looking at You, Patina.

Below are some photos of what the different patinas look like on some of the jewelry at Tribal Muse. They are arranged by increasing level of patination, including Mild, Warm, and Rich.

PicMonkey Collage - Milld 2Mild Patina

PicMonkey Collage - Warm 2Warm Patina

Rich Patina


Rich Patina



If you love old and vintage things, once you see a piece of jewelry with genuine patina, it is hard to forget it. You might even be overcome with an inexplicable desire to touch it, hold it, and wonder at who wore it.

There is a definite attraction that pulls people to this jewelry with a deep sense of pleasure and appreciation. Perhaps that is why so much new jewelry has simulated patina applied. It still looks good, but it is not the same as the real thing.

Some Jewelry with Applied Patina: PicMonkey Collage - applied patina

That is not to say anything against high-polish jewelry or jewelry with a painted patina. Many of these pieces are truly beautiful, and often more in keeping with fashion industry trends.

Regardless of choice, both old and new patinated jewelry is a welcome addition to any accessory wardrobe (although I must confess to a personal preference…I bet you can guess which one!)

You and Patina?

What kind of Patina Jewelry do you have – or would you like to have?

Tell us in the Comments section, we’d love to know what you think.



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