Tufa Cast Naja with Natural Kingman Turquoise
Tufa Cast Naja with Natural Kingman Turquoise

Tufa Cast Naja with Natural Kingman Turquoise


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Harrison Bitsue made this traditional Navajo naja using the tufa cast technique.  He hand-stamped the designs near the top that appear to be the rays of the sun with tassles on each each end.  A bright blue turquoise stone is set in the center.  The naja has been oxidized to give it a vintage appearance.  The hook on the back can slip over just about any size necklace.  It does not come with the necklace shown.  More about najas and the tufa cast technique.

Size: 2.5" H x 2.375" W

Najas are a prominent symbol in Navajo jewelry and are always the center piece in squash blossom necklaces.  I was told they are a feminine symbol, and their crescent shape represents the arms of a matriarch and the generations of the past and future.  It symbolizes ease of movement, paths of least resistance for the family, even during challenging times.  There is a sense of open arms in the shape of the naja that is soothing.  Some najas have hands on each end.

Tufa Jewelry: Tufa is a volcanic stone which can be as dense as chalk which has an organic texture. The first thing a jeweler does is examine a piece of tufa for any tiny fractures.  If it looks good, the tufa is cut in half and, if there is a design, it is carved into the tufa.   There is a pour hole carved into the top and several narrow vents carved into each side.  The two pieces are then bound together tightly and molten silver or gold is poured through the hole at the top.  If there are any microscopic cracks, the tufa explodes when the metal is poured in and the process has to begin again.