When most people think of Native American Indian jewelry, the Squash Blossom necklace almost certainly comes to mind. One of the most ubiquitous symbols of the Southwest, this piece of jewelry has its roots far from the American desert.
The central feature of a Squash Blossom necklace is the naja, which is the crescent shaped pendant centered on strands of sterling silver beads. The naja was adapted from an ancient Moorish symbol thought to be a good luck talisman to keep safe from the “evil eye”. Seen on the Spanish Conquistadores’ horse bridles during their occupation of the Southwest and Mexico, the Navajo people admired the shape and adapted it to their own style. A similar symbol originating from the Ottoman Empire inspired the Shriners’ Crescent Moon insignia.
The namesake squash blossoms refer to the smaller design elements to either side of the naja. Traditionally, these pieces would have sterling fluted designs, resembling flower blossoms, extending out to the sides. Also originating from the Spaniards’ influence, the blossom motif was used to decorate Spanish “dandy” clothing in the Santa Fe area during the mid-1800s. The design was actually based on a pomegranate blossom – how it came to represent a squash blossom is unknown. Native American silversmiths combined the two designs and a new style was born!
A perfect Squash Blossom necklace doesn’t have to have both the naja and the fluted beads. Many variations exist – different lengths, styles, stones and tribes. You’re sure to find one that is just perfect for you! Shop our available pieces, or give us a shout if you are looking for a style in particular – we’re always happy to help!