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Sweet horse fetish / pendant by Zuni carver, Carol Martinez. Iridescent abalone shell with inlaid jet eyes. Horse measures 1 3/8 x 7/8 x 1/4 inch. Handmade sterling bail. Excellent condition with patina. Weight 3.5 grams. Unsigned.
Horses are believed to possess healing powers.
A Zuni fetish is an animal figure made of stone, shell, antler, or pottery; sometimes tied with an arrowhead 'offering' and pieces of turquoise, coral, or heishi (beads). These offerings are given to the fetish to show appreciation and increase potency. Most North American indigenous people have made fetishes since prehistoric times, but it is the Zuni who produce fetishes in the greatest number and variety. In fact, Zuni fetish carvers have supplied fetishes to other southwestern tribes for many generations.
The first Zuni fetishes were 'concretions' or naturally formed stones that resembled people or animals and were considered very powerful. Contemporary Zuni fetish carvings have inlaid eyes, spirit lines, and tribal motifs; some Zuni fetishes have etched 'sgraffito' designs and may be adorned with feathers or paint. Many modern Zuni fetishes are very finely detailed lending a more realistic appearance.
Zuni fetishes are made for hunting, rain and harvest, religious ceremonies and initiation, spiritual guidance, good luck, gambling, strength and healing, longevity, fertility, or protection from disease and evil. Zuni fetishes may belong to an individual, a family, a clan, or an entire tribe. Each animal represents a different spirit or force of nature and, if treated with care and respect, the fetish will impart the power within to its rightful owner.
When not in use, Zuni fetishes are given a place of honor in a ceremonial pottery bowl with a small amount of sacred cornmeal or pollen placed in the bottom to appease the spirit of the fetish. There is a hole in the side of the pot to 'feed' the fetish and keep the spirit free. The pots are covered with a thin layer of crushed turquoise and decorated around the sides with directional fetishes.
People from all walks of life may benefit from a fetish or amulet that brings a special feeling of good luck or well-being. Zuni fetishes are found in homes and work places all over the world!
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