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Purple Bear Necklace and Earrings


Purple Bear Necklace Item #504                       Sold
  The Purple Bear Necklace and Earrings include:
*Fluorite medicine bear by Zuni artist Stewart Quandelacy
*Handmade porcelain beads (if you know the artist's name please advise me!)
*Turquoise, lepidolite, purple and white shell and sterling beads
*Sterling prong setting, findings, leverbacks
*Necklace is signed, numbered, dated

Length:  25" - 28"
Bear:   1 ¼” x 1 ¼”
Drop:  2 1/4" (8 cm)
Weight:  3.8 oz (108 gm)

Earrings:  1.5" (4cm)
Earring weight:  2.9 gm each (a nickel weighs about 5 gm)

This diminutive medicine bear is carved in Stewart Quandelacy's signature style (note the bear on the cover of McManis' definitive Zuni Fetishes and Carvings below). The slightly dated but fascinating book The Fetish Carvers of Zuni shows an earlier Stewart bear with a straight heartline, but the ones I have seen more recently are beautifully elaborated like this one. David and Darlene Riggs have produced a gorgeous book of Zuni carvings (Zuni Spirits, see below) which has two of Stewart's broad-shouldered bears. One has the heartline on the right, as does the one on the McManis cover, the other, like this sweet purple bear has it on the left. The heartline is also called "spirit line" and "breath line" and according to Bahti, there is no word for it in the Zuni language. I discussed the mythology of the heartline at some length in relation to another Stewart bear here, quoting Cushing's 1881 Zuni Fetiches. Cushing wandered in to Zuni as a young man working for the Smithsonian Institution, was welcomed by the people and wrote extensively about the Zuni. It is both amusing and in places heartbreaking to read Phil Hughte's book of cartoons about Cushing's time in Zuni, written from the Zuni perspective.

In this article I had originally written the following three sentences: "Hughte 'gets even' with Cushing in a very gentle way, but also makes clear the pain Cushing caused. It would probably not be too strong a word to call some of his acts sacrilegious. The humanity, balance and humor in Hughte's book is instructive." I had put "gets even" in quotes as it is often seen in reviews, but still it gives the wrong impression.  Further, my labeling some of Cushing’s acts as sacrilegious is not for me to say and is unbalanced because he did so much to benefit the Zuni people. Chet Staley (Amerindianarts) gave the following correction: "Most educated and well read Zuni sympathize with Cushing and see him for what he did. The father of modern anthropology saved the Nutria Lake area of the reservation from government insiders and had it returned to the Zuni. This is why he lost his place in Zuni. The government removed him. If you wish to look for sacrilegious acts that hurt the Zuni you should look more towards the Stevenson's and their many thefts of sacred idols from religious areas. Their jealousy of Cushing (Matilda Stevenson) has lead to much misinformation on the Zuni."

The bear is the protective and healing animal of the west. Bennett says of Bear, "If you are feeling overwhelmed by events, either in the external or internal world, place Black Bear before you, its back to the west, its face to the east..." then proceeds to offer meditation exercises which could be of help. Bennett does not claim to represent Zuni spirituality (and in fact does not) but rather offers a starting place whereby a non-Zuni might begin to learn the power of these symbols.

For a wonderful collection of stories about Bear and many other creatures, consider Craig Childs' The Animal Dialogues - Uncommon encounters in the Wild. One of his essays on Bear contains this gem, "In the dark before sunrise I wake and move again, no particular task in my mind but turning the pages of the world, seeing what comes next..." How like Bear whom he follows without following.

I had also written that I suspected this bear might be lepidolite, not fluorite. However Chet corrected me on that as well. He said that it is in fact a form of fluorite called yttrium fluorite. Many thanks for the corrections! Yttrium fluorite is a rare, very dense form of fluorite. Metaphysical properties for it apparently differ from those of more common purple fluorite, that's partly what threw me off-- it doesn't feel like fluorite. Some web articles indicate it is a grounding stone, some speak of psychic gifts, etc. Most web articles and images (from the first few pages of Google results anyway) say yttrium fluorite is pale lavender (much lighter in color than the bear) ... but then there's the fellow who bought one of the pale stones and had it tested by x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy at the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, University of Illinois and they found no yttrium in it whatsoever. So that might explain why our bear is so different from the images on the web. I should avoid speculating whether a stone is this or that, shouldn't I? Whatever, now I want a nice piece of yttrium to add to a necklace... so many elements, so little time!

The lepidolite beads in the necklace do match the little bear well. Ahsian notes that "Lepidolite encourages release of identification with the ego and acceptance of the present moment as a dwelling place for the soul." Not only does this suggest that lepidolite could be helpful in "turning the pages of the world, seeing what comes next" just like Bear, but she makes a distinction here which is rarely made. There is so much New Age talk about the "necessity" for the ego to die it seems to me her clarification is much needed. My own teacher has always maintained the Hindu Advaita position that there is nothing inherently wrong with the ego-making function, in fact it is rather handy. Were there no "I-maker" how could we distinguish ourselves from the oncoming bus? According to this view, our problems arise from our identification with ego, not from ego itself. My teacher's recently-published book, Self Transformation and the Oracular, is referenced below.

I hope you will order this sweet bear and that you will find him a wise companion on your travels within and without.

One-of-a-kind, subject to prior sale

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