Native American Indian Sterling Silver Earrings
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Very rich contrast on this Hopi-style Navajo overlay design.
What is the "Man in the Maze"?
The figure known as the "Man in the 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 Hopi 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.
What is Overlay?
Overlay pieces are made of two layers of sterling silver. The top layer has a cutout design. The solid bottom layer (background to the cutout) is usually accented for contrast. The Navajo silversmiths oxidize the bottom layer which darkens it. Hopi silversmiths oxidize and etch the background (texturize it) with hashmarks. The cutout top layer is placed over the bottom layer and the two pieces are "sweated" together, that is, heated so that they become one. This skill is very difficult to master.