Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Maidens of the Corn, a Zuni Carving Tradition

As long time collectors and dealers in Zuni fetish carvings, Susanne Waites and William Ernest Waites continue to be surprised by new collectors who are unfamiliar with Zuni corn maiden carvings. Perhaps it is because, unlike animals such as bears, frogs and turtles, a smaller group of Zuni carvers create corn maidens, almost as a specialty.

Corn maidens reflect the agricultural and ritual importance of corn to native culture. Small stands of corn are nurtured in the harsh environment to provide the pueblo with corn to be ground for flour and ceremonial purposes.

Corn maidens are emblematic of this respect for corn as a sustainer of life and spirituality.

Not all Zuni carvers carve corn maidens, although most may have done so at one time or another. As carvers mature in their ability and their marketability they tend to specialize in certain carving subjects.

Among those who specialize in corn maidens are members of the famed Quandelacy family.

Green snail shell corn maiden by Stuart Quandelacy, Zuni

Sandra Quandelacy has a long tradition of carving corn maidens, and Kateri Sanchez-Quandelacy is following her example. More recently , Talia Quandelacy has been carving corn maidens in a distinct style.

Todd Westika is another corn maiden carver, usually using shell, but occasionally othre materials such as this turquoise carving..
Todd Westika, Zuni, corn maiden from
Sierra Madre turquoise, silver inlay

Fernando Lawakete and Ron Laahty also carve corn maidens in styles that are unique to them.

Dolomite corn maiden with white marble
butterfly by Ron Laahty, Zuni

Gabe Sice also carves corn maidens, as does Daniel Chattin.

Daniel Chattin, Zuni, corn maiden of fossil
ivory with turquoise and malachite

When discussing corn maidens, it is impossible not to include other figures carved by Zunis and even Navajos. Freddie Leekya carves fascinating Zuni figures. and Troy Sice carves other maiden figures.

Navajo Andy Abeita has carved handsome corn maidens as well.

Navajo corn maiden from striped serpentine
with amber necklace, Andy Abeita

Zuni fetish carving collectors have a world of beautiful works to acquire. Many, include all those shown here, are featured at our website. You are invited to drop by and see what is available.
Tribal Artery is brought to you by William Ernest Waites and Susanne Waites, proprietors of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person online gallery with additional web sites at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink and TribalWorks.

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