April 06, 2008

Indian art made in Asia

Know what you're buying with Indian craftsAttention, shoppers. If you plan to buy American-Indian jewelry, baskets or pottery in New Mexico, be careful. There are a lot of fakes out there.

A New Mexican law called the Indian Arts and Crafts Enforcement Act prohibits misrepresentation of Indian arts. The target of the law is cheap knockoffs made in Asia.

"Misrepresentation runs rampant," says Zac Cox, whose grandparents have run the Rainbow Man store in Santa Fe since 1945. Their shop specializes in older American-Indian crafts and jewelry, sometimes called "old pawn" that was made from about 1900 to 1950. But even old pawn jewelry can be faked, an insult to the original makers who scraped up rare materials to create beautiful things.

"People don't realize how hard it was to create it," Cox says, pointing to a heavy turquoise-and-silver cuff bracelet circa 1930. Such bracelets can sell for about $350 to $1,500.


dmarks said...

I was about to purchase a woooden flute sold by a Native vendor at a pow-wow once, but noticed that the sticker said it was made in India.

It wasn't actually misrepresented, but I find this experience to be related to this post topic.

Rob said...

As you'll see eventually, this kind of incident also occurs in the PEACE PARTY graphic novel.