The bolo tie is a classic icon of Southwestern style worn for both formal and casual occasions. Today it is worn by both men and women and represents the best of inlay and silversmithing artistry.
This is a powerful representation of the classic Zuni knifewing by Alonzo Hustito, one of the best Zuni artists in history –and this is one of his very best designs.
The precision work on this piece is immaculate and striking. The mosaic inlay shows no separations between the inlaid stones of coral and turquoise, mother of pearl and jet. These represent the traditional four colors of Zuni. The bezels on the silver work are very tiny and delicate- just enough to securely hold the inlaid stones.
The silver work on the wings and tail feathers is quite extraordinary. The gently curved lines on the wings emphasize the possibility of flight while detailed lines and circles enhance the tail features. Rain drops and circular stamps reflect the circle of life on the tail feathers, the earrings and alongside the head and feet. All of the silver work is hand done.
Knifewing, also Knife Wing, is a half man – half eagle Zuni spirit or god with razor sharp feathers made of flint. He is the ultimate warrior and is the hero of hundreds of folklore tales. He is represented as possessing a human form, furnished with flint knife-feathered pinions, and tail. His dress consists of the conventional terraced cap (representative of his dwelling place among the clouds). His weapons are the Great Flint-Knife of War, the Bow of the Skies (the Rainbow), and the Arrow of Lightning. The knifewing became one of the first designs that the Zuni inlaid with stones. This is a masterpiece of precision inlay by a master artist.
Condition: Excellent – original condition
Provenance: Acquired from a private collector
Recommended Reading: Knifewing & Rainbow Man in Zuni Jewelry by Toshio Sei and Native American Bolo Ties by Diana Pardue