This gorgeous frog by Zuni artist Pete Natewa is similar in style to an example of his work illustrated in McManis (below). The stone used for the carving demanded
beautiful undyed lapis beads. Once you experience natural lapis, the dyed material seems hopelessly flat and uninteresting. Lapis, stone of self knowledge,
is said to penetrate through psychic blockages and reveal inner truth. It is supposed to work best on the throat chakra, right where this froggy sits
Frog carvings have
appeared in jewelry since prehistoric times. A major rain-bringing fetish, the frog is also associated with abundance and fertility. The Medicine
Cards give frog the attribute cleansing and mention that mediums who cleanse haunted houses often carry frog medicine. When I started to work on
this piece, a tree frog outside my door started calling contentedly. I felt blessed by its affirmation.
Frogs have many extraordinary qualities, including
the transformation they undergo from egg to tadpole (aquatic, breathing through gills) to semi terrestrial frog (breathing air through lungs). They are incredibly
sensitive to pollution and their decline in recent years is a sobering wakeup call about the damage we are doing to our precious water and our environment.
Shall I tell you frog stories? Perhaps the one about the day I was hiking in our Cuyamaca
State Park... it was, as usual, very hot when I came to a small stream crossing. I hiked up the little creek to some nice flat rocks and sat to watch the
water for a while. San Diego County is extremely dry, so even a tiny seasonal stream like this one is worthy of a 10 mile hike. Relaxing, I realized I was being
observed, but by whom? There are lots of mountain lions in the park, also the occasional bear and a great many other animals. I didn't want to intrude
upon anyone's watering rights, but I couldn't see anybody. I finally examined the surrounding rocks closely and realized there were at least a dozen tiny tree frogs tucked into pockets in the rock, their
skins mimicking the granite perfectly. Each was watching me closely with tiny black eyes. Another day, hiking in to see the famous La Pintada cave
paintings, my guide Juan pulled down a fan palm leaf to show me la rana, a little green sweetheart. I have no idea how he knew that little
frog was there. And there was a day years ago in a previous life as a software engineer, I had as usual worked most of the night and went out to hike at dawn before going home. Vernal pools used to be common in San Diego county before developers bulldozed these precious jewels of biodiversity, and this morning I came across one with bumps-- iridescent bumps in the early light. Now, I knew I was tired, but a bumpy pool?? The bumps turned out to be bullfrog heads.
The innermost strand of the necklace is strung on cable for strength. The other strands are hand knotted on silk. The necklace makes a beautiful choker with
the necklace tiers draping softly.
This necklace is featured in Margie Deeb's fabulous book The Beader's Color Palette (see below).