Faience Protector of the Dead…

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit
www.splendidheritage.com

 

 

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Some of the beauty of old Egyptian beads is that they look old. The more beat-up they are the more intrinsic value they have for me. I like to imagine where they were worn 3,500 years ago, and what they’ve seen. Who fabricated them and where?

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Bead colors were symbolic of different things, green meant growth and development, red stood for blood, which intended continued life and energy, black, which symbolizes rebirth, and blue referenced the everlasting sky.

This necklace contains beads made from red cornelian, blue faience, white ostrich egg shells, and black glass. The green eye beads are watchful. Nearly all later cultures copied Egyptian eye beads.

Faience Anubis amulets, such as the large blue one on this necklace, were powerful protectors of the dead. They are often found in the linen wrappings of embalmed mummies.

 

 

 

 

Sacred Beetle…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

egyptOn the forum Lia asked about an object pictured in my Egyptian Mummy story. So I made some close-up shots. It’s a faience scarab, the sacred beetle, all-seeing eye. In many cases when humans were mummified, the heart was removed and replaced with a scarab, which lives on forever in the body, thus guaranteeing an afterlife. The belly of this beetle is covered with a Hieroglyphic biography of the recipient. I acquired it in trade from a museum over fifty-years ago. Since it’s attached to a gold chain I wish now I had placed it in Indulgence. Thanks for asking Lia.

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Falcon Mummy…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

egyptStudying ancient Egyptian artifacts is a rewarding hobby for me. The fifteen pieces in our collection are housed in the Egyptian wing of my library.

 

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The Egyptian wing of the Fenn Museum, 20” x 30″.

 

A special piece is the sixteen-inch falcon from the Middle Kingdom period (12th Dynasty – c. 2,000 BC.) It’s mummification represents the Egyptian belief in the existence of an afterlife. The linen wrappings are designed to last an eternity. It was an offering to Horus, the most powerful god in Egyptian mythology.

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When the falcon was being x-rayed at the hospital a crowd of nurses and doctors came in to watch.

 

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Middle Kingdom faience necklace. We loaned it to Nancy Reagan’s Press Secretary who wore it opening night at the opera. She said no one knew what it was.

Early Necklace…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

 

basketThis may be the first necklace in North America, or at least one of the first. It was made by a Basketmaker I Indian whose people lived in the Southwest about 1200 BC. Their name came from the large number of baskets that were found in their dwellings, mostly caves and rock shelters. They didn’t learn to make pottery until much later. Can you believe these people were wearing turquoise jewelry 2,500 years before they acquired the bow and arrow?

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In the summer they ran around mostly aur paur but when the temperature got low they wore clothing made from hides and vegetal materials. It’s not that they were frugal life-style enthusiasts because hard was all they knew. The odds of a baby living the first year were one in ten.

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I found this necklace on a friend’s ranch in Arizona. The turquoise came from the Tiffany Mine in New Mexico, near San Lazaro Pueblo, and the cordage was made from a chewed yucca leaf. Notice that the pendants were tied on instead of strung, which allowed them to lay flat and show off their beauty. No matter how tough life was for primitive cultures around the world there was always time for religion and jewelry.

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Me and Little Beaver…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

rryderIn 1938 a new comic strip appeared in the newspapers. It was called Red Ryder. He was a crime-fighting cowboy who wore a white hat and rode a fast horse. Little Beaver was his young Indian sidekick and I dreamed of riding with them through the mountain passes as we chased bad guys who wore black hats. My name was Luke Revolver and every time I saw a man wearing a black hat I’d tell Little Beaver to watch out.

Each panel in the cartoon had a taste for overstatement and seemed to bounce at me with six-gun bluster. It was great make-believe.

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That’s when I was eight. That same year my father bought me a Daisy air rifle. It had “Red Ryder” etched in big letters across the wooden stock. I liked it so much I kept it under my covers at night, loaded and ready or action.

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The gun could hold about 250 BBs and it fired without making much noise. That meant I could shoot again if I missed a meadow lark the first time. Meadow larks don’t like noise and I needed to get five on Saturdays so each member in my family could have meat for supper.

About forty-years later I met Fred Harman who drew the Red Ryder cartoons. With 750 newspapers and 40 million readers, it was the largest syndicated comic strip in the country.

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In later years Fred became an important cowboy artist whose work sold for a lot of money. When our gallery advertised one of his paintings full-page color in Apollo, he came in to thank me, and I showed him my BB gun. He said he had one just like it but he had to pay for his. But he laughed when he told me that the Daisy Company gave him a 5-cent royalty for every gun they sold with his Red Ryder logo on the cheek plate. Sometimes success comes in small denominations.

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Fred Harman 1902-1982

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I related to Fred Harman. He was a link to my hunting days as a small boy in Texas and to Red Ryder with whom I rode vicariously across the prairie looking for rustlers.

I have willed my BB gun to Shiloh, but he can’t shoot meadow larks now because it’s against the law. Little Beaver wouldn’t like it.

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Asphalt Art…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

 

truck2Not everyone is blessed with an eye for what’s good in modern art. Being one so chosen keeps me always in the hunt. I acquired “Coca” on a windy day in March, 1974, while crossing San Mateo Street in Santa Fe. There came a strange rattling sound and I quickly looked to see a truck tire add the final touches to Coca’s composition.

 

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“Coca”

At that instant I fully understood the seductive charm of abstract art, and realized the genius of how some of it was produced. Our gallery director thought my mind was circling the drain with what he rudely called “That road kill plein air sculpture.”

My asphalt art collection is created in the tiny world of its immediate surroundings and has no loyalty to any maker. But it must adhere to certain architectural and aesthetic parameters related to a hanging loop and full body endowment.

Since that initial acquisition, forty-years ago, my collection has expanded to four masterworks. The mayor wants to give me an award for cleaning “litter” from our city streets. He just doesn’t have the eye so I probably won’t display it at city hall. But who cares, the curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Washington thinks I’m a genius.

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“Libation”, “Nada” and “Awe”

Prehistoric Thoughts…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

WW2_Iwo_Jima_flag_raisingTucker Wyche was a veteran of the ground fighting on Iwo Jima during WW-II, and was left with some noticeable physical and mental scars, especially physical. His wife said that his medical needs were abandoned by his country, and I guessed it was true.

 

“When war is rife, and danger’s nigh,
‘God and the soldier’ ‘s all the cry.
When the war is o’er, and the danger righted,
God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.” *

 The small Wyche ranch in Northern Arizona was sparse of grass, which interpolated into few cows. So Tucker found comfort in the saddle wandering through the tangled cedar brakes trying to find new-born calves ahead of the mountain lions that were constantly on the hunt.

Once, when I was riding with him, we happened by a small rock shelter that was hidden behind a knot of cottonwoods in a tight canyon. The cave-like dwelling had been inhabited in prehistoric times as was indicated by a few pot sherds and lithics that scattered around the floor.

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There also was an old, Copenhagen snuff can from the 20s or 30s, I guessed. It made me wonder if Paleo Man, 10,000 years earlier, also had taken refuge in that little space.

IMG_0708Against the back wall was a stone-outlined hearth. I scraped in the ashes with a stick hoping to find a few recognizable animal bones that would tell me what the ancient dwellers ate. To my delight I uncovered a 5 ½ inch chert knife that was tightly wrapped with a stretch of sinew. It was enough to make several bow strings. The blade had heavy use-damage on both edges. I guessed that it had been stored in the dead ashes to prevent small gnawing animals from chewing on the sinew, which still looked fresh and usable.

A few short months later Tucker passed away, ostensibly from his war-related wounds, and his wife moved far away to be near her children.

A number of widely varied cultures had occupied that small shelter through some hard times, and then disappeared. Makes me wonder if the residents 100 years from now will again need sinew to make bow strings.

*New Colorado and the Santa Fe Trail by Augustus Allen Hayes 1880

 

The Experienced Skinner…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

boarOnce, when we were in La Havre, Peggy and I went into a grubby antique shop on the waterfront. Although I was financially underprivileged, just being in that old place made me want to buy something. Maybe it was the ambience of it all.

So I looked around and saw three cannon balls “From Napoleon’s personal collection,” and many souvenirs that were left over from the French Revolution. A few gave me pause: a used guillotine blade, a hangman’s noose with the requisite 13 coils, several experienced peg-legs, and other fiendish French inventions of dim distinction.

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Le Havre France

But in a far back room, in a dungony-dark corner I saw an old trunk that just smelled with character. It was as if some terrible Viking had used it for storing things I didn’t even want to know about.

When I raised the squeaky lid the trunk appeared to be empty – and then I noticed a rusty old skinning knife with a character-weathered antler handle. It was covered with dust and must’ve been concealed in that dark place for years and no one knew it was there but me.

An old, yellowed price label said $100.

“Wow,” I thought, this thing probably was used to skin a thousand wolves, wild boar, and chamois.  My desire for it preceded critical acumen so I grabbed the knife and ran up front to the shopkeeper, “I want this knife,” I said. “Sacre’ bleu,” he replied, “Veer deed you geet zee extraordinary antique veapon?” Ha, I was in luck, he didn’t even know what it was.

A small sign on the wall said, “les ventes sont finales”.

I quickly handed the clerk a couple of twenties, some tens, a five or two and a bunch of ones – nearly all the money I had. My wife’s expression said that I should be saving up to buy a padded cell.

As we drove away I developed buyer’s remorse. If that knife had been in a display case in the front of the store with a price of $20, I wouldn’t have wanted it. Then it hit me. That well-seasoned Frenchman got to me with a trick that was the oldest ploy in the history of trading: It didn’t matter how special the knife was, it only mattered how special he could make me think it was.

I wanted to return it and get my money back but I knew that wasn’t going to happen, and besides, I’d have to admit to the sales jerk that he’d outwitted me, and that wasn’t going to happen either.

So I gulped and kept driving, not feeling very cerebral, and not looking at my wife.

But there was some profit in the deal because it provided me with a rule I would remember, “When testing the depth of the water, don’t do it with both feet.” I think that was the rule, but maybe not, I had so many.

In later years I decided that the hundred bucks I paid in 1957 were well spent because bad experiences build character. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this character.

 

Olmec Jadeite Mask…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

olmecfaceFor a thousand years, beginning about 1500 BCE, the Olmec people flourished in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico. They were the ancestors of all subsequent Mesoamerican civilizations.

Their artists were famous for carving well-fed looking human faces in stone. Some as large as 20 tons still stand where they were made. You can see them if you go down there.

The Olmecs especially liked Jadeite. They sawed it by drawing a taut string back and forth and using abrasive powders to cut, a process that could take years. Jadeite was the stone of the heavens, they thought, and when they carved it their hands were guided by the gods.

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Nephrite and jadeite are the two types of Jade. A rocksmith once told me they were so alike that a layman couldn’t tell the difference. But he could, he said, because one is colder than the other. He just couldn’t remember which was the coldest.

This 9-inch jadeite mosaic mask has a commanding appearance, and his splaying ears balance the temperament of his face. The rounded chin emphasizes his gaping mouth, and the wide-set eyes add depth to the overall expression. Its features make obvious the charismatic power of the wearer, who probably was a ruler or a shaman.

Such masks were considered images of transformation. The color green was associated with growth, longevity, renewal, and rejuvenation after death.

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I acquired this mask from a woman who sold antiques. She had 8 white St. Bernards and about 200 white pigeons. That was okay, but she poured beer in zip lock bags to save space in her purse. I thought she was a little weird. Her personality grated me and my dread of visiting her always seemed appropriate. Sometimes I forgot when I arrived why I went there in the first place. Maybe it was because leaving her was so much fun. Some folks think I’m weird too. What do you think?

Patriarch of the Remuda…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 

 

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This stallion is 32-inches tall when he stands on his hind legs, like now. A free-spirit expression relaxes on his 75-year old face – don’t you see it? He’d probably admit to having a bad hair day but who cares?

 

 

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He was named Tohopka (Wild Beast) by his maker, Yazzie Yarnell, who lives on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. Last I heard, he was 93-years old, but that was a while ago.

Yazzi carved Tohopka from the solid branch of a pine tree and dressed him in a warm winter ensemble, including a red, white, and blue Pendleton capote that’s fastened by two homemade mother-of-pearl buttons. Solid silver studs decorate the margins of Tohopka’s leather trousers and a classy, red-painted buckskin kilt hangs down in front. A German silver, rocker-engraved rosette holds Tohopka’s red neckerchief in place, but that’s no reason to call him a dude. He’s the monarch of the herd, a fact to which all of the mares and fillies in the remuda surely would attest, if asked.

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Tohopka’ll do his job and serve his master, but I can see in his steely eyes that he’s unwilling to be subservient to the institutional norms of everyday reservation life. He’s his own man when not on the job.

Tohopka seems right at home here in my den and he’s not just a decorative piece of sculpture to me. My friends say I’m too personal about these things, and take them too seriously, but what do they know about horses?