Authentic handmade Native American Indian pottery, jewelry, rugs and baskets are great collectibles. Each tribe has its own distinctive techniques and design. Years ago, a college friend moved from Ohio to Arizona. Same country, but a brave new world of climate and collectibles for someone Ohio bred and born. She and her husband gave me and my husband a wedding gift of a shallow handwoven Indian basket, 8 inches in diameter, as opposed to the crystal and china we received from other friends and family. I was fascinated by its tight weave and simple beauty. More than 30 years later, the basket, which we use as a breadbasket, is still in like-new shape.

If you are interested in starting a collection of Native American artistry, here are some places to start.  

Woven Baskets 

Collectors know that the Southwest people, like the Pima and Maricopa, typically favored the coiling method of making baskets, where a long strand of material is coiled into a spiral and held together with stitching.

Northwest tribes favored the twined method, which uses two strands woven around a splint frame. Navajo baskets also are very popular to collect due to their artistry and designs. Intricately woven baskets made by the tribes of the West and Southwest were made for utilitarian purposes and symbols or sacred ceremonies.

Early 20th-century Native American baskets are going for high prices at auction.

atsugewi indian woven basket

Atsugewi basket, twined, quail topknot patterned bands, flared rim, (stains, losses to rim), Hat Creek, California, first quarter 20th century, 11 in. h. by 13 1/2 in. w., $2,000.   Photo: John Moran Auctioneers


Jewelry

Native American jewelry is often made with turquoise and sterling silver. They frequently have intricate Native American symbols.

navajo indian turquoise and silver necklace and earrings jewelry

Necklace & earrings, by Navajo artist Alvin Joe, nugget cut Fox turquoise cabochon with mineral deposit spider-webbing, sterling silver link chain and beaded mount, both pieces marked “AJ,” “Navajo” and stamped “Sterling,” necklace 18 3/4 in., earrings 1 1/8 in., $1,020.   Photo: North American Auction Co.


Rugs

Antique Navajo rugs, depending on size, can range from around $1,000 up to many thousands.  

najajo indian woven rug

Navajo rug, Old Crystal Eye Dazzler, wool, central X form with striped decoration in stepped and serrated geometric patterns, brown, cream, heathered gray and red, c.1890–1910, 63 x 39 in., $900. The Old Crystal trading post was established in 1894 in a remote part of the Navajo Reservation Southwest of Two Grey Hills and Northwest of Gallup, New Mexico.   Photo: North American Auction Co.

 

Pottery

Native American pottery of the Southwest has been made for thousands of years. Tribal pottery first developed out of necessity for storage. Over time, it has become a representation of cultural artistry. The Anasazi, Hohokam, Mogollon, and Mimbres cultures were the primary artists. A simple way to verify if pottery is authentic Native American Indian is to look at the signature. Real pieces are signed by the artist before the piece is fired. If a signature is painted or etched into the pot, it is probably a replica. But many authentic pieces are unmarked.

acoma indian pottery olla bowl

Pottery olla, by Acoma artist R. Star Vicente, multicolored geometric patterns on a natural red clay base, marked “R. Star Vicente – Acoma, N.M.,” c.1950s, 3 3/4 x 4 x 4 in., $480.   Photo: North American Auction Co.

 

 

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