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#ThrowbackThursday: Dreams, and Dreamers of Them

White Buffalo Turquoise Cuff Bracelet Side B

In the world of dreams, sometimes the spirits come together to show us the way.

In the case of today’s featured work, these spirits couldn’t be more different — and yet, in their own respective ways, each serves as healer and hope, guardian and guide.

This is a work from about eight or nine years ago, one of several cuffs Wings created at the time with the help of the spirit of the Sacred White Buffalo. Oh, there was no obvious imagery of the shaggy hump-necked beast on any of them, but each was built around a single focal cabochon of White Buffalo magnesite, so named for its unusual snowy color and patchy, wispy bits of free-floating charcoal and brown matrix.

The name of this cuff is lost to memory (and, perhaps, to old computer files long since packed away), but I rather suspect it was one that evoked these spirits — if not by name, then at least by symbolism. It combined two members of the animal kingdom, Buffalo and Spider, with sun-ray/half-moon and sacred hoop patterns paired and combined into a semblance of a shield. It was an unusually small and simple work, one sized in a way that fit even me, and with a remarkably slender band that was, if memory serves, perhaps less than three-quarters of an inch wide, and yet it was a piece of equally remarkable power.

It began, as always, with the band.

White Buffalo Turquoise Cuff Bracelet B

Wings cut the band by hand from a sheet of sterling silver in a relatively light gauge — solid and substantial enough to hold its shape, but not enough to weigh down the wearer’s wrist unduly. About one-eighth of an inch from either edge, he hand-scored a single solid line, creating a sleek, elegant border on either side.

Then he turned to the stampwork.

At this point, I suspect he had already chosen the stone, because he began the stampwork in such a way that the design created a close embrasure for the bezel. He began with a stamp that does double duty as both the rays of a rising (or setting) sun and the form of a crescent moon. To determine which is which, much depends on context, although in this instance, either would have been perfectly well-suited to the overall design. In our way, opposites need not necessarily exclude one another, and I tend to think that he incorporated both interpretations here.

At any rate, he began with this particular symbol, arcing it across the top of the band so that it would seem to curve around the bezel, once the stone was set atop it. He anchored each curve with a pair of tiny hoops, then stamped the crescent downward from those points on either side, rays pointed inward at each other. At the lower, open end of each arc, he then added another pair, angled to meet in a single point. The resulting effect was distinctly shield-like, less a weapon than a form of protection.

At that lower point, he placed another hoop, which would eventually rest in the hollow where two more crescents were placed back to back. Wings sometimes uses such combinations to create plant-like imagery, but in this case, it seemed more of a union of opposing forces: dawn and dusk, moonrise and moonset, each arc opening to reach out and embrace the world.

But in light of this week’s themes, what interests me even more is what appears below the celestial crescents.

It’s a stylized symbol, to be sure — one that is intended to be read entirely metaphorically. In truth, it looks a bit like a spur: open pincers spread wide to hold the boot, hinged at the base, and flowing into a smaller set of pincers designed to spur the horse. Most often, this design is used to represent Spider. Yes, it’s true that, in this iteration, she possesses only four legs. It’s much like the notion of an inverted pyramid representing thunderheads, a motif read culturally and stylistically rather than literally. But I asked yesterday whether Spider Woman dreams of the moon, and here, long ago, Wings placed her likeness between orbs and crescents.

Once the stampwork was complete, all that remained was to set the stone. It was, if memory serves, a not-quite-perfect oval, one that was ever so slightly narrower at one end than at the other. He built a custom-tailored and scalloped bezel to fit it securely, then soldered edging and plate together, trimmed it in twisted silver, and placed the piece of White Buffalo in its embrace.

The result was a cuff that seemed to channel the strength and solidity of Buffalo, along with the Medicine that its white form carries; the protection of the warrior’s shield, one made of sun and moon, orbs and crescents and sacred hoops; and the visionary wisdom of Grandmother Spider, she who protects our own dreams and guards the spaces between worlds.

They are the dreams, and dreamers of them, weaving Medicine from visionary worlds.

~ Aji




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