Native American Bolos

A Native American bolo is a neck tie comprised of a cord, usually leather, clasped together using an ornamental jewel or stone. This form of neckwear has been adopted by the Native American tribes of the southwest United States and the northern areas of Mexico in the last one hundred years, and is used by both the Native American Tribes and non-native peoples. Both New Mexico and Arizona claim the bolo as their official necktie, and the bolos are regarded as forms of art and fashion, as they require a high degree of skill to create.

The basic bolo is comprised of a leather cord bound at the ends with silver, which can be plain or imprinted with a design or inlaid with stones and coral. The clasp, or center ornamental piece, keeps the bolo in place, much the same way as the knot in a traditional business neck tie or bow tie. The clasp, or bolo slide, can be formed into any number of shapes and is usually dependent upon the tribe of which the artist is a part. Many clasps are in the shape of animals, signifying strength, fortitude or spirituality, again depending upon the tribe. Common tribes that use and create bolos include the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi tribes.

The Zuni use inlays and mosaics frequently, which are implemented on almost all of their bolo ties in stunning channels. While the look is expressive and ornate, it does not lose its masculinity; the Zuni also use turquoise and jade and corals to inlay geometric designs. The Navajo, in general, are known for their use of centered stones in their rings and necklaces, and this has translated to their creation of bolos. Large and predominantly symmetrical stones, like Mediterranean coral and turquoise, in varying geometrical patterns, are placed within the silver clasp. The general shape of the overall pattern is that of ovals or squares, but could be any desired shape. The bolo was actually first created by the white man from influences of the Native Americans; due to this adaptation of the Native American's style and art, the tribes adopted the use of the bolo, creating a visually appealing and functional form of art.

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American Indians