Zuni Fetish

Gifts of Native Spirit

Zuni Fetish 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.

Gifts of Native Spirit

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.

Gifts of Native Spirit

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.

Gifts of Native Spirit

Badger (south) – known as healers, also possessed aggressiveness and perseverance

Gifts of Native Spirit

Bear (west) – also a symbol for healing, and displayed strength, courage and introspection

Gifts of Native Spirit

Beaver– encouraged and supported family unity

Gifts of Native Spirit

Buffalo– displays strength and promotes endurance to rise above your weaknesses

Gifts of Native Spirit

Coyote (east) – encourages humor and the ability to laugh at yourself

Gifts of Native Spirit

Deer – represent a gentle nature and abundance in the natural world

Gifts of Native Spirit

Eagle (zenith or sky) – this magnificent creature is highly regarded as a spirit and holds a strong connection to the Divine

Gifts of Native Spirit

Fox – is talented hiding with camouflage and represents protection

Gifts of Native Spirit

Frog – signifies fertility and also appeals to the spirits to bring rain

Gifts of Native Spirit

Horse – represents strong partnerships and unwavering stamina, along with keen mobility and strength

Gifts of Native Spirit

Mole (nadir or underworld) – a protector and hunter of the underground

Gifts of Native Spirit

Mountain Lion (north) – possesses leadership and shows true resourcefulness

Gifts of Native Spirit

Owl – known for its wisdom, intelligence and patience

Gifts of Native Spirit

Ram – encourages male fertility

Gifts of Native Spirit

Raven – a true healer, a trickster

Gifts of Native Spirit

Snake– a force that occurs in life, death and rebirth

Gifts of Native Spirit

Turtle – symbolizes longevity and promises rainfall

Gifts of Native Spirit

Wolf (east) – the teacher of all and the pathfinder on the journey of survival

Gifts of Native Spirit

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.

Gifts of Native Spirit

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.

Gifts of Native Spirit

Though many Native American Indian tribes use fetishes, the Zuni are recognized to be the most gifted and prolific carvers of these fascinating artifacts. If you are unable to find a particular Zuni fetish here, just email us and we’ll search our extensive collection of fetishes from our talented Zuni artists for you.

Gifts of Native Spirit

Carvings marked with a double asterisk are special and were created by Herbert Halate from the alabaster he used for Donald “Doc” Sharp’s headstone. Carvings marked with a single asterisk are from Donald’s personal collection. Doc was a Zuni fetish trader, dear friend, teacher and pathfinder for many of us. He will be missed in the industry and mostly by everyone he touched in his life.

Gifts of Native Spirit

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Gifts of Native Spirit

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