Tahe Family

The extended Tahe family (Navajo - Arizona, USA) has several different identifiable styles if jewelry emanating from different branches of the family, that may or may not be related to one another.

The best known style is very recognizable. They buy various types and gauges of wire and metal sheeting and work them into their final products.  By Indian Arts and Crafts federal laws (which can be pretty murky), some of their jewelry needs to be characterized as handcrafted versus handmade as they utilize prefabricated components and weave them together (sometimes literally).

The results are typically very clean, and well executed.  They mostly used silver but also have done some gold fill work (I own both bracelets and earrings with this).  The gold work seemed to stop when metal prices sky-rocketed about the time of the Great Recession.  Like many artists they started doing copper work when silver became too expensive so it would not be surprising if you were to run across examples of any of the above.

The style is popular with men and women alike; Robert Redford wore one of their bracelets in the movie "The Horse Whisperer".  I don't have that particular style.

There are about six family members (that I know of) for this particular style; but I suspect there are more.  There are several others who do stamping work, some of which I will be posting.  

I'm not clear about the familial relationship(s) of all these folks, other than the married couples, but I suspect Verna and Franklin are the eldest (according to G. Schaaf, Jewelry III: M-Z Published 2013, Verna was born in 1953).  Schaaf does not mention any of the other Tahes but that doesn't really mean anything, there are a huge number of artists not included in his books.

Artie Yellowhorse's grandmother, Anna, was a weaver named Tahy.  I have tried, without success, to pry out of Artie if there is any relationship as spelling of names, particularly the older they are, can be quite "fluid".  I don't think she is trying to hide anything, it's probably because she doesn't know and, clearly, I'm more interested than she is. Some of her plain silver work bracelets bear at least a passing resemblance to some of this work.

If anyone out there has more specific and accurate info I would be thrilled to have it so I'm not leading anyone down the primrose path. I periodically update it as I learn something new.

Most of my current stock of Tahe is "new old stock" that was purchased from a trader that was closing out their longstanding wholesale jewelry operation. I have about 50 bracelets (some are duplicates) and 40 separate designs of earrings (I have a lot of dups in some of these too).  The construction of the pieces is heavier (more silver and gold) than is being used now because both were considerably cheaper at that time. Some things are signed, some aren't (often the bracelets are but not the earrings.) Most of the bracelets I have were made by Verna and/or Franklin. I suspect mine are late 1990's to early 2000's.

 I do have some current pieces by the husband and wife team of Elaine and Benny Tahe, where they fit on the family tree is a mystery to me.

I have a customer and new friend in Australia who has over 60 vintage Tahe bracelets.  She has scoured the web, rescuing many older bracelets from meltdown. Tahes from the 1970's? (not sure of exact timing) weigh in at nearly double the weight of my pieces.  The pieces I have weigh in at about 1/3rd more than most of the more recent work I have seen.

There is a certain contingent of the buying public who looks askance at this work because some of it is classified as"handcrafted".  I think they are doing both the work and themselves a disservice. I think the Tahes have accomplished something quite remarkable by creating such a handsome and unmistakable style.

In any case the end result is unfailingly one of my most popular lines of jewelry.  Their work is admired, in demand, and purchased by every ethnic and income group. As the new/old stock depletes I will likely add in the more recent work.  

Having said all this, I have very little of what I own posted (it is difficult to photograph properly so I have continually put it off).  I am now confident my photos will work so I am circling  back and re-shooting existing work and adding pieces not previously posted.