A fetish is an object believed to have a power greater than the object itself would normally possess. While many Native American tribes produce and use fetishes, the most renowned fetish carvers are the Zuni, one of the largest Pueblo tribes of the Southwest.
Most of the fetishes produced today are made as art objects, but could become true fetishes if properly blessed by a priest or shaman. While most Zuni fetishes today look considerably different from the simply formed shapes of ancient times, the core beliefs remain the same. The Zuni use fetishes for many purposes including healing, protection, abundance in catching game, bountiful crops, rain and fertility. There are two books on this complex subject which we sell here in our shop. The first one is “Zuni Fetishes and Carvings” by Kent McManis—an excellent volume with a basic explanation of the purposes of fetishes along with a wealth of information and pictures of works of the major carvers. It also contains extensive listings of the members of many of the carving families to cross reference to the photographs of the fetishes.
The second book is “Spirit in the Stone” by Mark Bahti—-written more toward describing the belief systems of a number of Southwest tribes along with detailed descriptions of the different kinds of fetishes.
We carry a large selection of fetishes from bears and lizards to fish and sea lions, carved by well known Zuni artists. In our display case is a Picasso Marble bear with inlaid turquoise eyes by Hayes Leekya, a serpentine bear with a coral and turquoise beaded arrow bundle by Juana Homer.