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Horse Headstall

A work made of silver and leather.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver and leather.




Navajo (Diné)
Northern New Mexico or Arizona, United States

About this artwork

During the 1860s and early 1870s, Navajos (Diné) learned silversmithing from Hispanic artisans in New Mexico, and Plains Indian craftsmen whose own metalwork stemmed from Colonial sources in the eastern United States. Mexican pesos, U.S. American dollars, and ingot silver were melted down and recast in molds carved from soft volcanic tufa. Navajo silversmiths employed steel tools and punches to develop decorative patterns. Early concho belts, bow guards, bracelets, necklaces, horse headstalls, and other items of silver jewelry display massive forms and simple ornamentation. By the 1890s turquoise was increasingly used; although most turquoise was obtained from Southwestern sources, some was imported from China and Iran. Navajo silversmiths rapidly established a distinctive elegant style that has become one of the classic hallmarks of Native American art in the greater Southwest. Today, Navajo jewelry, like that of their neighboring Pueblo neighbors, exhibit much greater complexity of design and the use of diverse semiprecious stones, shell, and a variety of metals.


On View, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas


Navajo (Diné)


Horse Headstall


New Mexico (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Silver and leather


Approx: H.: 61 cm (24 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mrs. Muriel Kallis Newman in honor of Kathy Cottong, equestrian and Director of the Arts Club

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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