Zuni fetishes usually depict animals, especially their eyes, claws, teeth, heightened senses and connection with elemental forces. These carvings are meant to evoke animal spirits who are the messengers of the Creator. Our art is primarily organized by artist, but you can also browse by animal, carving material or price. When collecting, the cardinal rule is to purchase what speaks to you at some level.
Meaning and History Behind the Zuni Fetish
About Zuni Fetishes - American Indian Art / Fetish Meanings
For hundreds of years, Native American artisans have been creating beautiful carvings from wood, stone, or shell, including fetishes, masks, knives and utensils. Today, the tradition is carried on by a diverse group of Native American cultures, from the famed Zuni fetish carvers of the Southwest to Cherokee woodcarvers of the Southeast. Fetishes are small carvings that depict animals or other important native icons. Many tribes and pueblos of the Southwest are known for making fetishes, but this ancient art form is most closely associated with the Zuni, who today are considered the most skilled fetish carvers. Early Zuni fetishes were called Ahlashiwe, or stone ancients.
Zuni Fetish Meanings
In fact, the stories and history behind fetishes extend far beyond what many view as just a stone carving of an animal, encompassing spiritual and religious focuses that have spanned several centuries. Here, we would like to help educate you on the true meaning behind these lovely works of art that are, as you will see, much more complex and full of legend and history than you could have imagined. The Sun Father, revered by the Zunis as the giver of life and light, created twin sons. The Twins realized the world was too wet for humankind to survive and needed to be dried. The Sun Father had given his sons a magic shield, a bow the rainbow and arrows lightning.
The use of fetishes by the Zunis dates back hundreds of years. Fetishes are traditionally used for many purposes including healing, hunting, protection and inspiration. Zunis believe that all living creatures have a spirit. In creating the fetishes, the Zuni believe that power resides within the fetish or, more specifically, the spirit dwelling inside of the fetish; if a particular object is believed to possess power, then it is a fetish.