Zuni Fetishes are carved into different animals and supernatural spirits, each a significant symbol to the Zuni people. The animals and spirits depicted through these fetishes were believed to have certain characteristics that could be transferred into the carvings themselves. If you owned a fetish, you would then inherit the respective properties that your fetish represents. However, until the carving is blessed by a Zuni spiritual leader, it remains an intricately carved piece of art.
Some animals have important symbolic characteristics that are relatively consistent; however, the spirit of the fetish can be interpreted in many ways depending on the individual owner’s perspective.
Most carvings are made from stone, though for centuries the Zuni people have carved many for personal use from different materials such as wood, antler, shell, clay, coral and even silver. They believe that the spirits of the animals can act as messengers to the gods and provide them with protection from various evils in the world as well as promote the benefits of other elements.
The animals are sometimes depicted with bundles of shells, stones, arrowheads, feathers and other symbolic elements. These bundles are offerings that the animal spirit will carry to the gods on behalf of the owner of the fetish. However, it is said that only the pure of heart will be able to stir the spirits with any true power.
Zuni Fetishes are very unique and only a few are made of each design. It is often that we find they are sold out quickly because they are collector items.