World's Largest Naja on Display Outside Ponca City by Stephen Schwark

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In August, 2018 metallic sculptor Stephen Schwark put up a 20 foot Naja around the sign for Doctor Pickens Museum.
According to the Navajo, the symbol of the Naja represents strength and protection and is held in very high esteem by the Navajo as well as other peoples. In the photo, Dr. S. J. Pickens wears a squash blossom with cheroite stones. The naja is in the lower part of the squash blossom.

In August, 2018 metallic sculptor Stephen Schwark put up a 20 foot Naja around the sign for Doctor Pickens Museum.


The World's Largest Naja Goes On Display Outside Ponca City at Future Location for Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry

In August, 2018 metallic sculptor Stephen Schwark put up a 20 foot Naja around the sign for Doctor Pickens Museum.

The naja is a crescent-shaped piece that is often worn alone as a pendant or as the center piece of a squash blossom necklace in Southwestern Indian jewelry. The naja design shape is thought to have originated from the Moorish and then borrowed from the Spanish that was used as an ornamental design on horse bridle headstalls and as silver decorations on men’s pants. Some najas will have a center decorative piece or stone that is suspended often to freely dangle. Setting stones in the naja pendant began sometime after 1880. Later, with evolving lapidary techniques, more stones were fashioned on the naja and the squash blossom necklace. The squash blossom and naja began to have lapidary styles of inlay, cluster work and needlepoint stone work.

The inverted crescent pendant on squash-blossom necklaces is found in various design forms throughout the world cultures. During the Middle Ages, the Moors rode out of the East and conquered lands in a westerly direction including eight centuries of occupation in Spain. They adopted the symbol as a bridle ornament, and thought the inverted crescent would protect both themselves and their horses from 'the evil eye'.

Most believe the crescent-shaped pendant was adapted from the iron ornaments which adorned the horse bridles of the Spanish Conquistadors. The arrival of the Spaniards in the southwest United States in the late 1500s and early 1600s brought the Navajo into contact with these ornaments, which they collected either through trade or capture. When the Spaniards came to South and Central America, they brought that same idea with them for the protection of their horses and of their soldiers. Thus, the Moors taught the Spanish, who taught the Mexicans, who taught the Navajo their belief systems and metallurgy.

By the 1820's, Southern Plains metalworkers had learned the processes of cutting, stamping and cold hammering. Much of this work was produced in German silver. German silver was a different alloy as compared with the Mexican silver, which was often used by the Navajo. Through contact with either the Spanish and/or the various Plains Tribes, the Navajo adopted the symbol of the inverted crescent for their horses. The Naja was put on the horse headstall, the front center band of the horse bridle, and later, the Naja moved into the realm of necklaces.

The Navajo, it is believed, were the first tribe to adopt the design, but by the early 1900s, the art form had spread to neighboring tribes, including the Zuni and the Pueblo. The word “naja” is the Navajo word for “crescent”. “Naja” is the name the Navajo gave to a symbol believed to have originated in the Middle East in ancient times. Like some many symbols, it was created as a talisman for protection, with the Moors affixing it to their horses’ bridles to ward off the evil eye.

Early on, Navajos’ wore the crescent-shaped naja on a rawhide necklace as an ornament of beauty and these pieces also came to symbolize wealth. If one person had such an ornament, others wanted one —if possible, something even better. In this way, an incredibly array of variations on the the naja evolved. Eventually, najahe or naja, became associated with crop fertility and were worn during ceremonies related to the agricultural cycles. It was customary for Medicine men to wear squash blossom pieces as well.

During the initial stages of Navajo silversmithing, the use of turquoise was not abundant. Very few pieces were made with turquoise. As turquoise became more accessible and as silversmithing technology improved, the Navajo quickly employed the use of turquoise into the design of the necklace. Sometimes with simple one stone designs, others with hundreds of stones into one piece. It is this necklace with the simple one stone for each blossom that became a symbol of the Navajo. This design is what was used on the two-cent postage stamp, released in 2004.

According to the Navajo, the symbol of the Naja represents strength and protection and is held in very high esteem by the Navajo as well as other peoples.


  • Story of the Squash Blossom by River Trading Post
  • Southwest Silver Gallery
  • "The History Behind … The Squash Blossom Necklace" by Michelle Graff

About the Author

Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens
Dr. Pickens married Hugh Pickens on December 24, 1984 with whom she recently celebrated 32 years of marriage.

Hugh Pickens (Po-Hi '67) is a physicist who has explored for oil in the Amazon jungle, commissioned microwave communications systems across the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia, and built satellite control stations for Goddard Space Flight Center in Australia, Antarctica, Guam, and other locations around the world. Retired in 1999, Pickens and his wife of 33 years moved from Baltimore back to his hometown of Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2005 where he cultivates his square foot garden, mows seven acres of lawn, writes about local history, photographs events at the Poncan Theatre, produces the annual Oklahoma Pride series with his wife at Ponca Playhouse, and recently sponsored the first formal dinner in the Marland Mansion in 75 years. Pickens is presently in the process of planning the construction of an Art Museum in Northern Oklahoma. Pickens can be contacted at

Pickens' Publishing

In 1996, Pickens edited and published My Life In Review: Have I Been Lucky of What?, the memoirs of Jack Crandall, professor of history at SUNY Brockport. Since 2001 Pickens has edited and published “Peace Corps Online,” serving over one million monthly pageviews. Pickens' other writing includes contributing over 2,000 stories to “Slashdot: News for Nerds,” and articles for Wikipedia, and “Ponca City, We Love You”. Pickens has written the following articles available on his wiki at Research and Ideas.



Science and Technology

Business and Investing

Ponca City, Oklahoma

Pickens Museum


Peace Corps Writing


Phillips 66

Conoco and Phillips 66 announced on November 18, 2001 that their boards of directors had unanimously approved a definitive agreement for a "merger of equals". The merged company, ConocoPhillips, became the third-largest integrated U.S. energy company based on market capitalization and oil and gas reserves and production. On November 11, 2011 ConocoPhillips announced that Phillips 66 would be the name of a new independent oil and gasoline refining and marketing firm, created as ConocoPhillips split into two companies. ConocoPhillips kept the current name of the company and concentrated on oil exploration and production side while Phillips 66 included refining, marketing, midstream, and chemical portions of the company. Photo: Hugh Pickens all rights reserved.

For nearly 100 years oil refining has provided the bedrock of Ponca City's local economy and shaped the character of our community. Today the Ponca City Refinery is the best run and most profitable of Phillips 66's fifteen worldwide refineries. The purpose of this collection of reports is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66's business that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Safety, Environment, Legal


Strategic and Financial

Business Segments

Stock Market


Refining Business Segment

Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment

Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery

Other Phillips Refineries

Other Locations

Golden Museum.JPG

Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry

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