Gemstone Lore: Turquoise - In Native American Culture

| 2 min read

Throughout the history of the world, many indigenous people believed that Turquoise had spiritual powers. Ancient Persians associated the gem with victory and holiness and the Egyptians decorated their pharaohs with Turquoise jewellery before entombing them. Native Americans, such as the Aztecs and Mayas to the south, associated it with protection, good fortune, healing and communication with the spirit world.

Legend says that the Native American Indians, who lived in harsh and arid conditions, danced and rejoiced when it rained. Their tears of joy mixed with the rain and seeped into Mother Earth to become Turquoise. Thus they referred to it as the 'fallen sky stone' or simply the 'sky stone'.

Iatiku, the goddess of the Acoma Pueblo, a Native American community west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is said to have taught the tribe how to make Turquoise and shell beads to create elaborate necklaces. It is said she believed that the necklaces provided abundant power, as well as making the wearer more attractive and loved.

The Pima (or Akimel O'odham, 'river people') of southern Arizona associated the gemstone with strength and healing. However, if you lost your Turquoise, you would catch an ailment that could only be treated by a 'medicine man', a traditional healer that supported the Native American community.

Turquoise Jewellery

The Apaches of the southwestern United States associated Turquoise with skill, strength and invincibility. They attached pieces of Turquoise to their bows and guns believing it would make them precise and fierce hunters and warriors.

The Hopi Indians of northeast Arizona, known as 'the peaceful ones', believed that Turquoise was the excrement of a lizard who travelled between 'the above' and 'the below'. They treasured animals highly and would incorporate locally sourced Turquoise with symbols such as bear paws, feathers, eagles and buffaloes to provide spiritual protection and encouragement. The Hopi miners would carry Turquoise to give them security and strength.

Native Americans thought that Turquoise was alive with positive energy.

The famous dream catcher of the Ojibwe of North America featured a Turquoise spider and was thought to protect children from their bad dreams. The Ojibwe spoke of the spider woman 'Asibikaashi', who returned the missing sun to the people.

Native Americans believed that all things were alive. They thought that Turquoise was alive with positive energy, which aided mental functions and communication and acted as a protector. Many of these beliefs have endured to the present day. If you’re wearing Turquoise jewellery and see a crack in your stone, the Native Americans would say, “the stone took it”, meaning the stone took the blow that you would have received.



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