Fetishes and Carvings

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.

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Alonzo, Stewart

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Elegant Picasso marble badger

3 1/2"

Artist Unknown

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Well-carved antler bat

2 1/4" high

Artist Unknown

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Alabaster frog with turquoise eyes

This frog's face registers a look of great concern - a heron is near?

2 1/4"

Awelagte, Bert

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Alabaster bear with medicine bundle of Picasso marble, coral, and shell

2 3/8" high

Banteah, Sederick

#1
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Standing beaver in Picasso marble

1 7/8" high

Banteah, Sederick

#2
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Sederick also used Picasso marble to carve this fat seal, a creature not commonly seen at Zuni Pueblo

2 1/8"

Boone, Leland

#8327
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Unusual bear carved in glass with medicine bundle

3 1/4"

 

Boone, Lena

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Fat beaver with medicine bundle

3 1/2"

Cheama, Arvella

#1
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Very fine hummingbird on branch

2 3/8"

Cheama, Arvella

#2
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Delightful rabbit and log carving in Picasso marble

2 3/4"

Cheama, Lance

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Exquisitely carved slender fox

3 3/4"

Eriacho, Emery

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White alabaster bear with Medicine Bundle

2"

Gasper, Dilbert

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Large bear carved in black marble

Very fine etching and inlay on this exceptional sculpture

6 1/4"

Haloo, Alvin

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Badger with carved medicine bundle and turquoise eyes

3"

Haloo, Alvin

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Crouching fox

Stone matches Alvin's badger carving

3 1/4"

Homer, Robert

#1612
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Serpentine "Hunt Bear" in flowing form

3 7/8"

Homer, Robert

#1611
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Another "Hunt Bear", this one carved in serpentine

3 1/4"

Hustito Family

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Delicate eagle carved in elk antler

1 3/4" high

Kaamasee, Derrick

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Bobcat on stump, carved in antler

2 1/8" high

Laate, Max

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Finely carved pair of birds in apple coral

2 1/4" high

Laate, Max

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Corn Maiden in apple coral

3" high

Laate, Max

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Another highly detailed apple coral carving by Max

This shows a clutch of cardinals on a hollow trunk

2 5/8" high

Laate, Pernell

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Delicate kingfisher carved in elk antler

3" high

Leekya, Delvin

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Comical frog in Picasso marble

1 7/8"

Leekya, Delvin

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Angelite bear with medicine bundle of coral, turquoise, and shell

3 7/8"