What is the "Man In A Maze"?
© 2008 Horsekeeping LLC © Copyright Information
The figure known as the "Man In A Maze," depicts a man entering or exiting a labyrinth. It is a theme seen on baskets from as far back as the nineteenth century and occasionally in Navajo silver art. Such depictions of labyrinths are also found in ancient petroglyphs (Native American rock art).
The symbol can represent a person's journey through life. The maze contains many twists and turns, meant to represent choices made in life. The center is round and dark, so the journey can be from darkness to light or vice versa depending on which way you are headed!
Some interpret the center as a representation of a person's dreams and goals. When you reach the center, you have reached your goals and the sun god there blesses you and helps you pass into the next world.
Another interpretation of this symbol is that the man represents the human seed and the maze is the womb. As the man enters the maze, he creates new life which represents reincarnation or eternal life.
Corn is the symbol of sustenance, the staff of life and is an important symbol of many Native American tribes. Corn is considered a gift from the Great Spirit so its role is both as a food and a ceremonial object. Very notably, corn is connected to the Hopi for their skill in being able to raise corn in desert sand. Corn Pollen is a blessing given for protection, understanding and forgiveness. It is used along with prayers, in house blessings, and to bless people by placing pollen on top of the head. Cornmeal, usually made from perfect ears of white corn, is considered sacred and is used to bless and nurture sacred objects such as fetishes. Read more . . .
100% solid silver won't tarnish but it is too soft to use for making jewelry - it could easily be scratched, dented and bent. Sterling silver has a small amount of one or more other metals usually copper, added to the silver. To be called sterling silver, the alloy must contain at least 92.5% pure silver. Sterling silver alloy is harder than pure silver but the added metals also can cause discoloration or tarnish.
What is Overlay?
Native American overlay pieces are made of two layers of sterling silver. The bottom layer is a solid piece while the top layer has a cutout design. The cutout layer is placed over the bottom layer and the two pieces are "sweated" together, heated so that they become one solid piece of sterling silver. The bottom layer, or background, that shows through the cut out portion of the top layer is often darkened for contrast.
silversmiths typically texture the background layer with hash marks while Navajo
artists often leave the background smooth. Hopi artists tend to use geometric
designs and symbols similar to those used in their pottery and baskets. Navajo
silversmiths tend to create scenes depicting everyday life using people, animals,
buildings and landscapes to tell a story - this style is called "overlay storyteller
more about overlay here.