Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday - February 17, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy aka Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.

TIGER EYES by Judy Blume

heishi - There are delicate silver and turquoise earrings and necklaces, strings of heishi, chunky silver bracelets and rings. (p. 153)

heishi: The literal meaning of heishi is "shell" and specifically refers to pieces of shell which have been drilled and ground into beads and then strung into necklaces. More and more frequently, however, heishi (pronounced hee-shee) has come to refer to hand-made tiny beads made of any natural material.

The origin of heishi is fascinating indeed, and is inescapably linked to the ancient history of the people most proficient in its making, the Santo Domingo and San Felipe Pueblo Indians. It is safe to say that this is the oldest form of jewelry in New Mexico (and perhaps in North America), pre-dating the introduction of metals. Centuries ago, the shells used by the Pueblo Indians to make beads were obtained in trade from the Gulf of California.

When one looks at a string of heishi, the first reaction is frequently "how on earth can a person that?" or "to be so perfect, it must be done by machines." The truth is, if it seems exquisitely perfect, it was most likely made by the hands of a highly-skilled, extremely patient craftsperson. -- The Collector's

What new words did you discover this week?


bermudaonion said...

I've seen beads like that but never knew they're called heishi - I'm going to try to remember that word! Thanks for participating!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm with you - I can't imagine how a person and not a machine could do that!

Lisa notes... said...

Interesting word and neat to hear the background story.

Suko said...

I'd never heard of heishi before! Very interesting. I've read some Judy Blume, but not the book you mention.

Here's mine:

If anyone can suggest a subtitle for my post, please do!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Those rae gorgeous and I never knew the name. I am so glad that you decided to show a picture.