Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zuni Fetishes

So, before my parents met me in Sedona, AZ, they flew in to Albuquerque, NM and drove to Santa Fe, NM to spend the night. While they were in Santa Fe my Mom became enthused about Zuni Fetishes. They are basically carvings made from stone depicting different animals. Here's the official word from Wikipedia:

"Traditionally, Zuni fetishes are small carvings made from various materials by the Zuni Indians. These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons integral to their culture. As a form of contemporary Native American art, they are sold with non-religious intentions to collectors worldwide.

According to the Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology as submitted by Frank Hamilton Cushing in 1881, and posthumously published as Zuni Fetishes in 1966, the Zuni world is made up of six regions or directions. At the center of each region is a great mountain peak that is a very sacred place. Yellow mountain to the north, blue mountain to the west, red mountain to the south, white mountain to the east, the multi-colored mountain above, and the black mountain below (Cushing, 1994:17).

Each direction is represented by a "Prey God", or guardian animal, and are listed by Cushing as follows: north - the yellow mountain lion, west – the black bear (represented by the color blue), south – the red badger, east – the white wolf, the sky or upper – the multi-colored eagle, and the underground or lower – the black mole. Each prey god is the "guardian and master" of their region with the yellow mountain lion being the elder brother of all animals and the master and guardian of all regions."

Basically, the way I understand it, the Zuni used to see a rock that somewhat resembled an animal and make a few enhancements to the rock to bring out the shape of the animal. They would then wear it in a pouch around their neck when they, say, went hunting (depending on what animal it was). If the hunt was successful, they would have the fetish blessed by their spiritual leader and a medicine pack (a bundle of other stones) would be added to the fetish as an honorary offering. So, my mom found a store that was selling some of these fetishes and got hooked. She then brought me in on the whole concept and I was also effectively hooked. So now the Wolfe family has a new obsession. I managed to compile a collection of 13, ridiculous, while I was in Arizona. Clearly we've lost our minds, but it's kinda fun and I should have all sorts of good luck in the coming year haha. Here's my current collection:

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