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Edgar Heap of Birds, Spring 2013

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Hohokam Artist



Bird-Shaped Pendant, n.d.
Shell and turquoise
3 1/4 in. x 4 1/16 in. x 1 1/4 in. (8.26 cm x 10.32 cm x 3.18 cm)

Creation Place: North America, Native American, Arizona
Technique: Carving and inlay
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. E. H. Parker
Accession Number: P3004b
Bird-shaped shell covered with turquoise and other colored stones

Commentary
These two large turquoise mosaic overlay birds were reportedly found in a jar in Arizona's Verde Valley. Shell mosaic overlays indicated the high status of their ownders. The construction and materials of the pendants--layering argillite and turquoise onto another rare material, such as marine shells acquired through trade with the coast--reflects their value. Birds are highly symbolic to Native peoples of the American Southwest. Appearing as early as 1000 BC, bird depictions occur in rock art, on pottery, and as jewelry and fetishes. Birds are messengers between the earth-bound and sacred sky beings, thus they often symbolize "flight" into the spirit world.

Bibliography
Kathleen Howe, Nuance of Sky: Edgar Heap of Birds Invites Spirit Objects to Join His Art Practice (Claremont: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2013), 18 illustrated/color.

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