Zuni Fetish Meanings

Zuni saying: You do not choose the fetish, the fetish chooses you.

{The six most powerful Zuni Fetish animals according to Zuni cultural and religious tradition: Mountain Lion, Bear, Badger, Wolf, Eagle and Mole. These six correspond to the four cardinal directions plus earth and sky.}

Antelope - Buffalo, sheep, deer, antelope, elk and rabbit are all game animal fetishes, which help increase the numbers of these animals so the Zuni have plenty to eat.

Armadillo - Armadillo is the keeper of the home.

Badger - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Badgers are the guardians of the south. Badger is fierce and tenacious and can be counted on in tight situations to display boldness and perseverance. Badger represents passion and persistence.

Bat - Bat is the guardian of the night.

Bear - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Bears are believed to be powerful healing animals, providing strength and well being with great curative abilities. The Bear is the guardian of the west. The Bear is the great protector.

Beaver - Beaver is industrious and diligent and can achieve much.

Bobcat - Bobcats are one of the rarest carved. Bobcat/Lynx/Wildcat - Elusive, intelligent, solitary and independent.

Bison - Bison reminds us of abundance and gives us a perspective of the greater whole.

Bull - The Bull represents mental and emotional strength.

Butterfly - Butterfly represents beauty, transformation and rebirth.

Cat  - Cat represents independence and self-confidence.

Corn Maiden - The Corn Maiden is the Grandmother of the Sun and The Grandmother of the Light. In the Pueblo Indian culture, corn is the symbol of life; the Corn Maiden brought the gift of corn. The Corn Maiden represents strength, creation, and wisdom.

Coyote - Coyote represents humor and the ability to laugh at one's own mistakes.

Crow - Crow is the keeper of the sacred law. In Native American folklore, the intelligence of crows is usually portrayed as their most important feature. According to Native American legends and myths, some tribes believed that the Crow had the power to talk, and was therefore considered to be one of the wisest of birds.

Deer - Deer represents grace, gratitude and the ability to sacrifice for the greater good.

Dog - Dog represents loyalty and friendship.

Dolphin - Dolphin represents the spirit of trust and friendship.

Dragonfly - Dragonfly is the messenger who carries prayers to Spirit World.

Eagle - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Eagle carries the power of intuition and creativeness, along with the powers of healing and spirit. Eagles are guardians of the sky.

Elk - Elk represents confidence and power.

Falcon - Falcon represents power and harmony.

Fish - Fish represents the ability to hide one's emotions. Fish is a purifier.

Fox - Fox is clever and has the ability to blend in. Fox is very loyal to loved ones.

Frog - Frog is able to petition the spirits to bring forth abundant rain. Frogs are associated with abundance and fertility. Frogs support emotional and physical healing.

Hawk - Hawk is the messenger of the gods.

Horned Lizard - Horned Lizard represents longevity and self-reliance.

Horse - Horse represents swiftness and strength. It promotes enlightenment, freedom, and power.

Hummingbird - Hummingbird is a messenger and represents the ability to stop time.

Ladybug - Ladybug brings luck and abundance wherever she goes. Ladybug represents the childlike nature in everyone.

Mole - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Mole protects from disease at the root and represents awareness and grounding. The Mole is the protective animal of the underworld.

Moose - Moose is headstrong and represents longevity.

Mountain Lion - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Mountain Lion is associated with personal power, resourcefulness, independence, leadership, fierce protectiveness and loyalty. Mountain lion is carried by travelers to protect them on their journey. The Mountain Lion is the guardian of the north.

Mouse - Mouse represents attention to detail.

Olla Maiden - Zuni Pueblo women are known for skillful movement while balancing painted pottery jars on their heads. Olla Maidens represent the real Zuni women of the past that went back and forth from the spring to the home carrying large jars of water on their heads. The Olla Maiden represents strength and nourishment.

Otter - Otter is playful and represents laughter and curiosity.

Owl - Owls and other birds are believed to carry prayers to the clouds and sky, asking for rain and blessings. The Zunis also believe owls are home protectors.

Pig - The Pig is a symbol of abundance, luck and good fortune.

Porcupine - Porcupine represents the power of faith and trust.

Rabbit - Rabbit represents gentleness, charm, and awareness of others. Rabbit is the special guardian of women in childbirth and is associated with safe childbirth and a long life for children.

Raccoon - Raccoon is shy and resourceful.

Raven - Raven is clever and represents magic and transformation. Raven helps guide us through the darkest of times.

Roadrunner - Roadrunner is associated with bravery, speed and endurance.

Sheep - Sheep represent innocence and gentleness.

Skunk - Skunk represents inner strength, self-respect, and a good reputation.

Snake - Snake symbolizes life, death, and rebirth. Snakes are associated with lightning, bringing rain for the crops. Snakes also have curative powers in some tribes.

Spider - Spider represents the creative patterns of life.

Squirrel - Squirrel represents the ability to plan ahead and is very industrious. Squirrel represents natural intelligence and the protector of reserves.

Turtle - Turtles are a water fetish, meant to bring rain to the crops. Turtles also serve as a link to the Zuni ancestors. As frogs symbolize new life, turtles represent a connection to the elders. Turtle is a symbol of Mother Earth. Turtle represents self-reliance, tenacity, and longevity.

Wolf - One of the six most powerful guardian fetishes in the Zuni universe, Wolf spirit represents the ability to work together for the good of the group. Wolf fetishes given to newlyweds represent the hope that the couple develops the strong family bond exemplified in wolf pairs. Wolf represents loyalty and family values. Wolf is a teacher, pathfinder, and represents a sharing of knowledge. The Wolf is the guardian of the east.

About Zuni Fetishes


Sources ~ BestOfZuni • Dr. Harold Finkelstein, "A Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings" by Kent McManis