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A beautiful Pueblo silver and Bisbee turquoise bolo

by Tse-Pe Gonzales, San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM, 1974

here is something you don’t see every day, a wonderful jewelry piece made by a famous Pueblo pottery-maker. Tse-Pe Gonzales (1940-2000) was the son of the renowned San Juan/San Ildefonso Pueblo potter, Rose Gonzales and he grew up making pottery in which he had an extremely distinguished career. Along the way, possibly influenced by the example of two of his San Ildefonso friends and neighbors, both distinguished artists who were both well known for making something other than jewelry, but who made a few pieces of jewelry too and here we are speaking of the great San Ildefonso painter Alfonso Roybal, a.k.a. Awa Tsireh, (1898-1955) and Tse Pe’s fellow San Ildefonso pottery maker, Popovi Da Martinez (1922-1971).

The bolo is made in the overlay or shadowbox style and features what appears to be a stepped terraced design of the style used on Pueblo kivas particularly the prominent one in the plaza of San Ildefonso. Set inside the design is a wonderful large oval-shaped piece of high-grade “Lavender Pit” Bisbee, Arizona turquoise which is considered to be one of the finest and most desirable varieties of turquoise in the world. High-grade Bisbee stones such as this one, on the very infrequent occasions when you can find them, currently sell in the $40 per carat range and we would conservatively guess-timate the weight of this particular stone to be in the 20-25 carat range so the math here is fairly compelling.

The bolo slide measures 2 3/8” in length and 1 3/4” in width at the widest point and the two handmade silver tips measure 2 1/4” in length. The bolo, slide, tips and leather together weigh 54 grams or 1 7/8 ounces.

The bolo slide and tips are in excellent original condition. The braided leather slide does have some wear and this could easily be replaced, if desired. The bolo uses a standard “Bennett” style fastening clip on the back. The bolo is beautifully signed “Tse-Pe” and it is also dated “74” on the back.

This bolo is a rare, beautiful and extremely well-made piece which would make an especially wonderful

and appropriate addition to any Pueblo pottery collector’s collection.

Price $1,550

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The kiva in the plaza at San Ildefonso Pueblo with its stepped terraced design

Tse-Pe Gonzales in an undated photo

Photo source and  © Rick Dillingham, “Fourteen Families

of Pueblo Pottery”, UNM Press, 1994