The history of Indian jewelry goes back to the most ancient times, when the first people who settled the American continent (they are called the Paleo-Indians) collected strings of beads and made pendants from shells and multi-colored stones. Native American jewelry was not just beautiful things. They served as amulets and amulets.
Necklaces and stripes on clothes were made of turquoise and coral by hand polishing the materials. A tree, fish vertebrae, bones, teeth and claws of animals were used. It was believed that necklaces made from horse or deer teeth would bring good luck and excellent health to their wearer.
Indian tribes living in the Great Plains and the Northwest Plateau traditionally made their jewelry from beads and elongated hair pipes that were more than 1.5 inches long.
Quillwork textiles using porcupine quills and bird feathers were popular. This technique was used to make earrings, hats, hairpins, buckles and many other types of jewelry. Quillwork is still being produced and is popular today.
Metal jewelry came to the Indians through trade with other regions. When they started doing blacksmithing, metal armbands and chest bands appeared.
Craftsmen from the Iroquois tribes made carved decorative hair combs, which became more sophisticated after the appearance of metal knives in the late 16th century.
Teardrop-shaped pendants and decorations in the form of birds, fish and turtles were made from shells. Some tribes wore pendants made of wood, stone, or bone in the form of human faces. They were considered protective amulets. In the manufacture of jewelry, the Indians used the symbols of corn and beans, since these products played a large role in their diet.
Some of the Indian decorations were of functional importance. For example, the Comanches and representatives of some other Indian tribes made leather bracelets that protected from the blow of the bowstring. They were worn on the left hand.
The Indians loved earrings, but the traditions of different tribes could be different. The Cheyenne wore one ring in their ear, and later began to make several holes in the cartilage and wear half a dozen jewelry. The Sioux earring consisted of two rings passed one through the other. The Comanches cut large holes in the ears, into which rough jewelry was inserted.