Ornament Magazine

VOL39.1 2016

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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11 ORNAMENT 39.1.2016 t h e o r n a m e n t b o o k s h e l f attributes extend to the large pantheon of adorned deities in Indian religions. The gathering of visual information, through looking or staring, plays a large part in how people read each other as to status, ethnicity, religion, regionality, etc. It is formalized in the concept of darshan or the sacred gaze, which also applies to secular life. One realizes the importance of prior knowledge to decipher such visually coded messages. Such knowledge was probably also active in ancient societies like that of dynastic Egypt, where the populace had to understand the meaning of much ritualized imagery in daily and funerary contexts, as well as recognize the function of the hundreds of amulets associated with life and death. The other four parts of her book include production and commerce, personal adornment, body art in the lifecycle and conclusion. Production and the selling of clothes and jewelry details the intricate interaction, obvious and hidden, among suppliers, makers and customers. It is filled with much information and insight into the weaving of saris, the making of different types of jewelry and how they are sold, including ornaments for the gods, real and fake beads, imitation jewelry and wifely ornaments, including the all important bangle sets. Of note is the large influence of Bollywood on personal adornment, but also on the facial features of the numerous deities. Shukla emphasizes how closely social and economic status is associated with taste. The chapters on personal adornment focuses in detail how three women address dress and jewelry, within the context of their lives, social status and marriage. The fourth part of the book deals with life after the wedding, before the wedding and the wedding itself, during which each part of a woman's lifecycle is impacted. The traditional Indian ideal of feminine beauty is defined as thick, long black hair, large eyes, full lips, a shapely body and, crucially, fair skin. The beauty of the bride, her jewels and clothing become the focal point of the wedding, enhanced by the hired beautician. During the jaimal or exchange of flower garlands, all this is preserved by the photographers, whose work will be admired for decades. In her conclusion, the author explains her approach to the study of body art. Shukla includes a glossary and extensive notes and bibliography. Interestingly, she was a recipient of a Los Angeles Bead Society grant, a committee on which I sat for years. Robert K. Liu H enrietta Lidchi. 2015. Surviving Desires. Making and Selling Native Jewellery in the American Southwest. University of Oklahoma Press: 264 pp., softbound $34.95. Lidchi's volume appears to be the product of a long and diligent research project on a topic not usually associated with British scholars, that of American Southwest jewelry. Surprisingly, however, many of the images of the profusely illustrated book show Native American jewelry from the collections of the British Museum or other museums in the United Kingdom, some purchased while on her research trips, as well as fascinating examples collected much earlier by the British Museum. Her very thorough viewpoint is historic, cultural and technical, providing a different and valued approach to the study of Southwest jewelry but the detailed attribution and denseness of material makes for slow reading. Chapters introduce Southwest jewelry, compare Navajo versus Pueblo jewelry, the jewelry business, the Santa Fe Indian Market, the bases of value in Native American jewelry, historic collecting of such jewelry by the British Museum (with really interesting examples of early Southwest jewelry), contemporary collecting (with short profiles of a number of makers), and her brief assessment of the modern environment. Since Ornament regularly covers Southwest jewelry, and events like the Heard Fair, it is revealing that even recent images of jewelry shown by Lidchi have now evolved, demonstrating the rapid changes occurring among Native American jewelers. While I am fairly conversant with both Southwest jewelry and its background, I learned much from her telling of the intricate relationships among makers, sellers and the market for such jewelry, with the intensive treatment of pawn jewelry especially enlightening. The influence of Middle Eastern traders, and lately, of Japanese traders on Southwest jewelry are not known to many. The Grace of Four Moons, my previous review, provides a vivid contrast to a very different market. Anyone with an interest in Southwest jewelry, and especially academic institutions/libraries, needs to have this modestly priced book. Ornament staff met Lidchi, a Keeper at the National Museums Scotland, during this year's Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. RKL

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