STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN'S
CONCHA BELT &
"END OF THE TRAIL" BUCKLE
Conchas (named after the Spanish word for shell) are round or oval disks of silver. Conchas, also called conchos, are used in groups to decorate belts. The belt itself is called a "concha belt" or sometimes a "concho belt." The concha belt is another example of the foreign elements of design which the Navajo People adopted, changed and developed into a very unique piece of jewelry and a symbol of the Navajo nation. The Navajo have taken a design which they may have borrowed from the Mexican concha bridle ornament or from the oval shaped hair ornaments worn by the Plains Indians and added designs copied from the leather stamps of the Spanish and Moors.
The very earliest concha belts had round concha forms and a slotted center through which a leather belt would be threaded. These round conchas were simple in design and were made of heavy-gauge silver. They were made by all hand die stamping. The conchas were often hammered out of single Mexican or American silver dollars. They had a decorated outside edge. Later, when Navajo silversmiths started soldering, copper loops were soldered to the back of solid conchas for threading the leather belt. In the 1890's the open center was no longer functional and, instead, an oval or diamond-shaped stamped pattern replaced it. The large center rosette was embossed by the use of a male and female die. Because they were copied from harness buckles, early belt buckles were small. Between 1900 and 1920 turquoise stones and butterfly spacers appeared, along with repousse work.
"End of the Trail" buckle: In 1894, when James Earle Fraser completed his model of the End of the Trail, American civilization stretched from shore to shore. Most Euro-Americans believed the frontier period was over and that such progress was inevitable. Many viewed Native Americans as part of the past, a vanishing race with no place in the twentieth century. Popular literature portrayed Indian people as "savages," noble or otherwise. Fraser's the End of the Trail reflects this legacy: a nineteenth century Indian warrior defeated and bound for oblivion -- frozen in time.
Stevie wore this belt very often from 1985-90, including many TV and concert appearances. There are countless photos of him wearing this belt.
Where is it now? Acquired by the president of the SRV Fan Club in May 2002. It is NOT for sale. It will be displayed on the fan club tours and at other appropriate events.
Where can I get a similar one? Navajo jewelry dealers in the southwest, or on the internet.
The concha information came from the Millicent Rogers Museum website.