With probable Paleolithic origins, the inverted crescent form (called Naja by the Navajo) has represented the Phoenician goddess of fertility, Astarte, and is mentioned in the Book of Judges among the “ornaments on camels’ necks.” The Moors – who dominated Spain for eight centuries – adopted the crescent as a horse’s bridle ornament, to protect the horse and rider from “the evil eye”. The Spanish then brought the idea to the Americas in the late 16th century.
The Navajo, whether directly from the Spanish, or indirectly through the influence of the Plains Indians, adopted the crescent form as a horse headstall (the front-center band of the bridle). Later it became the crowning achievement of their squash-blossom necklaces, hanging symmetrically at the center of the necklace when worn. Although the Navajo claim that the Naja has no precise symbolic or spiritual significance, it is ubiquitous in their culture and held in high esteem.