Ketohs (pronounced gato) are Navajo bracers or bow guards and were originally crafted from hide. The first ketohs with silver were made as early as the mid to late 1800’s during the first phase of Navajo silversmithing. The silver for these pieces was generally made from melted coins and would be cast in a two-piece mold. They would then be taken from the mold, hammered into shape, and sanded until smooth. A cold chisel and stamps were used for the earliest designs, and after the 1880’s ketohs saw the addition of bezels with turquoise and other stones. The turquoise pieces for ketohs were sometimes taken from earlier tab necklaces or earrings. Later ketohs developed more complex design motifs and techniques.
Vintage ketohs were made as functioning bow guards, they were meant to protect the wearer from the pull of the bow string and arrow. They were also taken out at ceremonial dances and were considered to be important pieces of art. Today, ketohs are worn by both collectors and fashion icons primarily for personal adornment much like bracelets. We have many excellent examples of vintage ketohs; inquire for further information!