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A stunning, sterling silver Hopi cuff bracelet

by Ralph Tawangyaouma, circa 1950’s

This bracelet is a particularly gorgeous piece by one of the all-time greatest Hopi silversmiths, Ralph Tawangyaouma (1880’s-1973). Ralph T., who began his career in the early 1910’s and didn’t even start signing pieces until the 1930’s, was one of the last of the old-time Hopi silversmiths and his long 50+ year career spans the entire range of Hopi silver from the early pre-overlay period when Hopi silver work was generally very similar to early Navajo silver work through the beginning of the Hopi Silvercrafts Guild in the late 1930‘s and the creation and general adoption of the Hopi overlay style in the 1940’s and 50’s. Through it all, Ralph T. stayed true to his own old-style methods and unique, bold design sensibility.

This bracelet is masterfully crafted of heavy-gauge sterling silver in an elegant, finely-contoured all-silver design. There is no stampwork, no stones, no embellishments of any kind, only beautifully-formed shaped and hammered silver. Yet the overall effect and appearance is deeply rich and satisfying, the polar opposite of “plain”.  The bracelet measures 1 3/8" wide at the widest point.  The inside circumference end-to-end is 6 1/4" and the gap between terminals is 1 1/8" for a total interior circumference of 7 3/8" ( This could be adjusted slightly, if desired.) The bracelet weighs a substantial yet very comfortable 71 grams or 2 1/2 ounces. 

The bracelet is in excellent vintage condition with some minor, age-appropriate surface scratching.  It is properly signed on the interior with Ralph T.’s customary “clouds and rain” symbol hallmark and a large capital “H” for Hopi and it is also marked “Sterling”. (For a comparison of an identical Ralph Tawangyaouma hallmark, see page 334 of Billie Hougart's “The Little Book of Marks on Southwestern Silver”, 2011 edition).

This is an elegant, timeless and distinguished piece by a most accomplished and distinguished artist, a piece to be treasured always and worn with great pride.

Price $2,450

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