Parker Awanyu "Aztec Indian"

The name Avanyu, or Awanyu, literally means «water serpent» in the language of the Tewa Indians.[1] Avanyu was the deity of rain and lightning, of the river ways and water sources. His symbolic representation is found on pottery as early as A. D. 1000[2] in the form of a zigzagged horned and feathered serpent that shoots lightning from his mouth.

Guardian of waterways and harbinger of storms. Symbolic of the great importance water holds in the lives of the Pueblo people, the Avanyu is its protector and provider. An Awanyu  design is a Pueblo feathered serpent or water god. Awanyu appears on the walls of caves located high above canyon rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. Awanyu could be related to Quetzalcóatl, the feathered serpent, deity of the Aztec civilization.

The Parker Awanyu was introduced in 1911. In catalogs and ads of the time we read; «Based on an Aztec Indian design discovered by archaeologists. «Awanyu» means the giver of life and symbolizes good luck. The goldsmith who worked on this design has been successful beyond our expectations. Don’t fall to order one of these pens with the unique, beautiful and mystical design.«

The design features an 18k gold-filled surface delicately hammered by hand with symbols as the four-armed/pointed «whirlwind» design of Southwestern Native origins that can found in Navajo woven rugs, in Hopi or Pueblo petroglyphs, and a head of an Indian native man embellished with an Awanyu pendant and wearing a feathered headdress, the “war bonnet”, depicted on the barrel and cap. The fountain pen could be manufactured in sterling silver – model 59 – for $16.00. Model 60 in 18k gold. was $20.00. There are «half» versions -models 57 and 58-, with the caps in exposed hard rubber crowned by a band with Aztec Indian motifs in silver and gold, respectively, at price of $10.00 and $12.00.

No two Awanyu are alike; each overlay is the result of a unique artistic work. Although inspired on a basic design template, each of them is individually hand embossed and chiseled by a goldsmith artist. The smooth and open areas that remain between the motifs in low relief are carefully hammered-embossed adding a delicate texture.

We do not know how many Awanyu were sold in their day. Those that have appeared for sale in recent decades could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Parker Lucky Curve Awanyu Aztec Indian. Two designs.

Geo S. Parker wrote in 1911 how this design came to his catalog;

Santa Fe New Mexico. Last winter the writer took a little trip thru the west. Among the stops made was at Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is certainly one of the cities worth visiting.  It is claimed that the city is the oldest in the United States. History shows that the city was originally inhabited oy a very civilized race of Indians several hundred years ago. The Spaniards who controlled the territory hearing of the City, and of its richness in gold and silver and jewelry marched upon the City and captured it. It has for hundreds of years been practically a Spanish city and is today.

The quaint little mules loaded with firewood being driven down from the forests in the mountain, and having still stranger looking drivers with their tall, pointed straw hats and turned up rims are everyday sights. Speak to one of the drivers in English, and he will stare at you with a startled look and say «No savy» and pass on.

Don’t think for a moment that this class constitutes the entire population. Nothing could be more erroneous. They are merely a part of a very interesting whole.

Fine stores and such courteous and polite attendants cannot but impress the stranger within its gates, makes one long to return for another visit. 0, yes, indeed, Parker Pens are sold there. 

There is in this wonderful old city the Archeological Institute of America that has the most wonderful collection of Indian and Aztec relics that the writer ever saw. As good fortune would have it the curator, Dr. Chapman proved to be an old-time friend of the writer, so the visit to the Institute was made especially enjoyable. 

In one of the rooms the writer saw a most peculiar design of the early Aztec designing. Upon inquiry found it was the «Emblem of Mistic Power,» «The preserver of life,” «The guardian of springs and streams.» Permission was secured to copy the design and since then the writer has had the silver smith reproduce it on a fountain holder as shown herewith. 

The Aztecs called it «Awanyu”, so we have called it the Awanyu too. It is made in both sterling silver and gold filled. A more strange or beautiful thing it is hard to imagine. With the many centuries behind its origin, and the fact that it is supposed to bring good luck and long life to its owner, made it an especially adapted design to use on a Parker Pen. 

Everyone who sees the pen with the strange, mythical characters on it becomes interested in it at once. It’s a wonderful pen to have in stock as an advertisement alone to interest possible buyers.” 

Indian native carved on Parker Awanyu pen.
Symbols carved on Parker Awanyu pen.
A Parker Awanyu "Aztec" mod. #60. Auctioned by Bonhams´ house in December 2013 (image © Bonhams).

[1] Rosemary Diaz. 2014. Avanyu Spirit of Water in Pueblo Life and Art.

[2] Ibid.