Mid 20th century Zuni silver, turquoise and coral belt buckle attributed to either Zuni Pueblo artist, Dan Simplicio or his uncle, Juan Dideos. The elaborate oval shaped buckle features a central setting of channel inlay turquoise with a raised coral branch running through the center. It is surrounded by stamped silver drops and leaf forms. Two tear drop shaped cabochons above and below as well as crescent form channel inlay on either side further ornament the buckle.
Dan Simplicio (1917-1969) learned the art of jewelry making from his uncle, Juan DeDios, one of the earliest Zuni silversmiths. Dan worked at C.G. Wallace’s trading post and ultimately Wallace became one of the biggest Simplicio collectors. He used branch coral it its natural form, which was unheard of during this time period. He innovated the natural coral and turquoise style of jewelry while simultaneously excelling with his silver work. He was also a master of inlay, which he did only in his formative years of which we have few examples of today. Simplicio worked with silver in a very interesting way, a way that his son credits to his time overseas in WWII. He was influenced by the French, German and Italian use of leaf patterns. It is this leaf work that sets Simplicio’s pieces apart from traditional Zuni work.