Definition (fetish): an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers, or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit. Traditionally, Zuni fetishes are small carvings made from various materials by the Zuni Indians of the Southwestern United States. These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons integral to their culture. But as a form of contemporary Native American art, they are sold with non-religious intentions to a growing number of collectors worldwide.
A fetish may be signed by the carver, or not. Often a Zuni carver feels that their own unique style is readily identifiable and that will be enough to identify them. Most carvers come from a centuries-old family tradition, and having learned their skill from parents, grandparents, or siblings, have passed the art on to their own children, as well. (~Jean)
NOTE: See our special feature on Native American Zuni Fetishes in Multicultures.
Pictured: Collection of Zuni bear fetishes