In spoon collecting we have two types of  Navajo spoons.
First we have the spoons that were made by Navajo indians
for the tourist trade. Second we have spoons made in a
generic indian style by silver manufacturers which were also
catering to the tourist trade.

The symbols found on Navajo spoons are not necessarily related
to the Navajo way of life, but instead were symbols that the tourists
expected to see on Navajo spoons, thus creating a salable product.

The Navajo's did not make silver spoons for their own use.

Navajo indians typically learned their silver making skills from
Mexican silversmiths and then they passed the skills onto later
generations.  Eventually indian schools established by the Federal
Government to teach the Navajo's occupational skills also taught
silvermaking skills.

The best book on this subject is "Navajo Spoons" by Cindra Kline,
Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

These are typical demi sized Navajo made spoons

These three spoons are typical Navajo made spoons featuring a profile

These two Navajo made spoons feature the popular 'sun' design

Typical spoons made by established American silver companies and sold as Indian spoons to tourists.

NOTE:  The Swastika

The swastika is a very ancient symbol of good luck and was used in ancient India and China.
It was used in both the Anglo world and the Navajo indians also used it, but they called it the 'rolling logs' or 'whirling logs'.
 All of these spoons were made long before Hitler came to power in Germany and made this a disgusting symbol to Americans.

navajo swastika spoon
Examples of  Navajo made 'rolling log' spoons

These spoons have absolutely no relationship to Nazi Germany
See below for more information about this Navajo myth

The snake is somewhat sacred to the Navajo's and is not often depicted on spoons

These two spoons are typical tea sized Navajo made products

Interesting caddy spoon showing a more modern Navajo symbol - -probably hand made by a local artisan and sold through one of the modern indian arts stores.

Many other examples of Navajo spoons are found elsewhere in this museum


In Navajo myth, the swastika represents the Whirling Log, vehicle of the Culture Hero.

In the Whirling Logs narrative, or Tsil-ol-ne story, the hero of the story sets out on a long journey [down the San Juan River]. At first, the gods try to persuade him against going, but seeing his determination, help him hollow out a log in which he will travel down the river.

Along the way, he has many misadventures which ultimately result in his gaining important ceremonial knowledge. In one such instance, he and his craft are captured by the Water People, who carry him down beneath the waters to the home of Water Monster. Black God threatens to set fire to Water Monster's home and the hero is released, but not before being taught by Frog how to cure the illnesses caused by the Water People.

When he finally reaches the big river [the Colorado River] that is his destination, the gods take his log out of a whirlpool where the rivers meet, and help him to shore.

~ Dave, Arizona Perspective . . .  . ><"

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