Saturday, November 08, 2014

Give Your Zuni Fetish Carvings a Place to Feed & Shelter

As traditional as Zuni fetish carvings are, there is a companion tradition that every Zuni fetish collector should engage with: The Zuni Fetish Bowl. 

Usually coated with turquoise or other crushed stone, it contains ground turquoise and corn meal to provide nourishment for the hard-working protective fetishes of Zuni belief.

A small hole in the side wall allows access for the fetishes to enter and exit the fetish bowl. Often other fetish carvings were attached to the circumference wall. now has a new fetish bowl created by Robert Michael Weahkie, scion of the famous Weahkie clan of carvers, which includes Lena Boone, Dinah Gasper, Evalena Boone, Leland Boone, Debra Gasper and Peter Gasper Jr.

Since the price of turquoise has escalated so much, the 5" x 6" size of this Zuni fetish bowl dictated a coating of ground sodalite, similar in color to turquoise, although more intensely blue. (Believers in the powers of gemstone minerals attribute strong healing powers to sodalite.)

Inside the bowl is a mole carved from antler by Robert Michael Weahkie. The mole is considered a protector of threats from the netherworld. Atop the opening of the bowl, suspended by crossed strands of sinew, rests an eagle carved from antler, protector for the heavens. Surrounding the bowl are four more fetish directional protectors, each also carved from antler: mountain lion, bear, badger and wolf.

Robert Michael Weahkie favors antler for his carvings, which also  include altar figures of varying sizes. All of his artistry and other Zuni artists can be seen at

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