*Available at the Peabody Essex Museum and The Autry Museum.
Striking 24k panthers stalk their prey in the darkness of the night on the panther gorget. One of the most striking forms of native southeastern jewelry is the gorget. The gorget is a crescent shape necklace traditionally worn by tribal leaders. The original gorget in this piece was crafted by Kristen Dorsey using the ancient southeastern metal-working tradition of relief sculpture. Today this technique is called chasing and repoussé which means to re-push in the French language. It is a labor intensive process of working the metal from both sides to create free-form relief sculpture without the use of molds or templates. This panther gorget was molded from the original chased and repoussé piece and is cast in solid sterling silver. The panther sculptures are then highlighted with 24k gold fused to the surface. The background is darkened with a hand painted patina and the center is set with labradorite.
Lethally beautiful and mysterious, the panther is an important clan animal in Chickasaw Culture. Koishto ‘ iksa’ is Panther Clan in the Chickasaw language. Koishto iksa is a leadership family group and is part of the Chickasaw social clan system. They were frequently depicted in shell and stone carvings as the underwater panther, a powerful being who’s domain was the under world accessed through lakes and river-ways. For me this top predator represents the power and beauty of the Chickasaw homelands in the southeast. Today the southeastern panthers are listed as endangered due to loss of habitat. They are a reminder to us that we must actively preserve these valuable ecosystems for future generations.