Saturday, November 27, 2010

Carved stone fetishes

 I'm wary of using the word "fetish" in describing my jewelry.  In the past, it's been kicked back, not accepted.  But let me explain.  I'm no sexual pervert!

My joy is in hand-carved objects, especially Native American stone fetishes.  The earliest fetishes were used by Zuni Indians and were naturally formed from stones.  Later, people started to carve stones to resemble people and animals.  It's believed that fetishes have both practical and spiritual powers, that they protect and assist individuals.  Fetishes are given a place of honor in the home.  Mine stand on my desk, keeping guard over my computer.

 There are two major groupings of fetishes: protective or healing animals, and hunting and prey animals.  Six Zuni fetish animals have been assigned to guard the six directions:
the mountain lion - north
the bear - west
the badger - south
the wolf - east
the eagle - sky (up)
the mole - underground (down)

Other tribes, like the Navajos, use fetishes in their dream catchers, chokers and necklaces.  I love using fetishes in my jewelry - they prompt the stories that become my necklace's haiku.  My dear black turtle fetish is the focal point of my favorite treasure necklace.  He represents the oldest symbol, Mother Earth and longevity.  Black Turtle used to guard my Etsy shop, and was my avatar.  Now I have the spine of a handmade journal, which  characterizes my other love, books.  My Turtle Treasure Necklace is in Norman, Oklahoma right now, keeping guard over my necklaces at the Firehouse Holiday Gift Gallery.  I miss him a lot.  He and his friends may sell, but I will always have his haiku and could never forget him.
Black turtle found the
Treasure chest, and made fast friends
With the fetish drops.


Nancy said...

That's so interesting! I knew your work was informed by Native American culture, but I didn't know what fetishes were and what they meant! Thanks for sharing!

Beadwright said...

Nice post. Each tribe has it's own depictions. My tribe's totems are a bit different. Lovely pieces.

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

LOL...Your first paragraph had me laughing :)
Your pieces are great and it's fun to hear where they come from and the stories behind them.

Indira said...

Very interesting to know the source of your inspiration and work.

BeadedTail said...

I didn't realize they were called fetishes so this was very interesting. I have some bear fetishes that I need to make something with. You have inspired me to do just that!

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