Did you know… turquoise is created by the pressure of millennia on copper, aluminum, and iron deposited by rain where water is scarce? The more copper, the bluer the stone.
Turquoise, Water, Sky tells the story of turquoise, how it is formed, where it’s been found (Egypt, Iraq, Tibet), how Native Americans interpret the stone, and how contemporary artists are adapting traditional methods.
Among Native Americans, turquoise is treasured for its color and what it represents – water which is scarce, and the sky, which is vast, whose color is reflected in water, and which brings water through rain. Fetishes (small animal carvings) and animal motifs also represent water and sky. Dragonflies, turtles, frogs, water moccasins, and shells are only found near places with water. Birds and butterflies represent the sky. Each carries its own mystique and power. Turquoise is believed to be imbued with the power to heal and protect.
Navajo pieces on display showcase skill in silverwork. Zuni inlay on silver is sometimes layered on Navajo silver, oxidized to provide a black background.
Experts determine the provenance of a stone based upon color, texture and grain. Sadly, most U.S. mines have been depleted. Much of the new turquoise on the market today is from China.
Turquoise, Water, Sky runs from April 2014 through April 2016. (Photos above were provided with permission from the Museum.) Artist talks, field trips to mines, and more will be announced for summer and fall.