WTH is a Heishi?!


An Ancient Skill at Our Fingertip

Santa Fe, New Mexico - We can thank our Native American brothers and sisters for the heishi bead. Pronounced hee' shee, the word means shell in the Keras language of the Santo Domingo Puebla Indian tribe of New Mexico. Native Americans would ground shells and stone into beads and make small discs or tube shaped pieces and make exquisite jewelry.

Believed to be the oldest form of jewelry in North America, heishi pre-dates the introduction of metals. Since most modern Native American jewelry skills have been influenced by the early Spanish explorers, heishi jewelry is the only Native American jewelry making style that is solely their own.

While our heishi bead kit does not contain shells ground and prepared by Native Americans, it does include over 6000 flat polymer clay beads, metal beads, pendants, findings and elastic string - everything you need to create your own unique heishi bead jewelry.

Check out The Artist Life Heishi Bead Kit here.


Photos: Top - ARESO. KERESAN FAMILY. COCHITI TRIBE - A PUEBLO INDIAN. Source: New International Encyclopædia, 1905, v. 10, facing p. 574 (middle left). Author: Dodd, Mead & Co.; lithography by Julius Bien, N.Y.WTH is a Heishi? Bottom - Heishi Beads by Erin Anderson.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal 0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods