Many American Indian peoples historically believed that animals have powers beyond human abilities and carry lessons that they can teach us. For some tribes, today most notably the Zuni Pueblo of New Mexico, this belief extends to carved representations of the animals - fetishes. The Zuni believe each fetish has a spirit within it and possesses helping, healing, or inspirational powers. By holding a certain fetish and reflecting on its significance, Zuni people draw the animal's special energy into themselves, and the fetish assists them in confronting challenges or problems of any kind, whether they are of the mind, the body, the natural world, or the spiritual world.
Fetishes are hand carved from stone, antler, or other materials. They may be adorned, by the maker or by the person who ultimately possesses it, with a Medicine Bundle of feathers or bits of stone, which is meant to be an offering or a token of appreciation to the spirit within the fetish.
Of course, just like the animals themselves, fetishes have specialized strengths. Each is also associated with a direction and a primary color. Those that relate to the six healer/protector Guardian fetishes of Zuni are:
Bear, the fetish of the West, whose primary color is blue and who has the powers of strength, introspection, and self-knowledge
Cougar, the fetish of the North, whose primary color is yellow and who has the powers of balance, leadership, and resourcefulness
Wolf, the fetish of the East, whose primary color is white and whose traits include teaching skills, loyalty, interdependence, and pathfinding
Badger, the fetish of the South, whose primary color is red and who is known for perserverance, aggressiveness, and healing
Mole, the fetish of the Earth, whose primary color is black and who protects the harvest
Eagle, the fetish of the Sky, who represents all colors of the rainbow and who has special powers of healing, illumination, and connection with creation.
We have hundreds of Zuni fetishes - Many more will be coming soon.
Many photos are enlarged in order to show detail. The actual length or width (the greater dimension) of each carving is noted in its description. On a few carvings the height is given instead.