Feasts of Tradition Brooch/Pendant

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Sterling Silver, 14 Karat Yellow, Pink and Palladium White Gold, 18 Karat Green Gold, Keum Boo (Fine Gold and Silver), Champagne Diamond ,015 tw, Red, Blue, Orange, and Green Sapphires, Sterling 18 in. 15 Strand Cable Chain

Ocean to tundra,
This land fed my ancestors.
Unending circle.

This piece can be worn as both brooch and pendant.

The idea and title for this piece were developed in collaboration with Eliza Tunuchuk of Chefornak, Alaska, where I lived and continue to visit.

This piece condenses the entire year of coastal Yup’ik Eskimo subsistence foods into one circular form divided into three sections representing the conditions on which The People hunt and gather: tundra, ice and water. The three connectors represent berries, fish and ocean. Many details of Yup’ik life are encompassed in this piece.

Starting at the top right, the first section represents tundra with an expansive feeling of openness and wind, with a pierced spiral sun, pierced flying birds, pierced and engraved Sour Dock plant with a keum boo flower stalk representative of all tundra greens.

Continuing counter-clockwise, the top connector represents berries and mouse food. Balls of sterling, white and yellow gold on sterling stalks emerge from a wavy sterling grid beneath. Three gemstones represent salmonberries, blueberries, and lowbush cranberries.

The second section represents ice with a piercing of a hunter dragging a seal home, and the keum boo of tiny fish represents winter fish: needlefish, tomcod, blackfish, smelt, pike.

The second connector is of gold fish swimming on a wavy sterling grid below, with gemstones representing the colors of salmon and herring.

The third section (bottom) represents water, with pierced flying birds, and the keum boo of diamond shapes represents summer fish: herring, halibut, whitefish, pike, hooligan, flounder.

The third connector represents ocean with green and yellow gold waves over a sterling spiral beneath representing sometimes dangerous ocean spirits. Gemstones represent the color of water: blue and green.

–Joan Tenenbaum, 2011.