What is a Zuni Fetish?

Zuni (A:Shiwi) Fetish Carvings

In Native American culture a fetish is a found rock or a carved stone resembling an animal or figure.

Native Americans have carried these talismans for more than a thousand years. Fetishes have served as empowering reminders of the human connection to nature and to those qualities the animal or figure reflect.

Modern day fetishes are often seen with a bundle of coral, turquoise or an arrowhead tied to the back or side. These are offerings made to the fetish for favors already received or hoped for in the future. 

Some fetishes have a line of inlaid stone in the shape of an arrow. This arrow is called a lifeline or heart line. The heart line begins at the mouth where breath gives life and points to the spirit, where faith and inner strength reside.

Today, the Zuni Tribe of northern New Mexico remains the primary producer of fetish carvings in Native American culture. Zuni fetishes depict animals and figures integral to the Zuni culture. 

Zuni is one of the most traditional of all the New Mexico Pueblo Tribes, with a unique language, culture and history. With perhaps 80% of the workforce involved in making arts, Zuni is indeed an "artist colony." 

Home-based work makes it possible for Zunis to remain in the community with their families and be a part of the ongoing traditional cultural activities. The arts nourish the community in a material way as well as maintain Zuni cultural identity and sense of unique style.

The artists’ styles are as unique as the artists themselves and the mastery of carving is passed down through generations. Your purchase directly supports Zuni fetish carvers and helps to keep this art form alive.

Zuni Fetish Meanings


Sources ~ Pueblo of Zuni http://www.ashiwi.org/, The Arts by Maria Johnson, www.collectorsguide.com