Fetishes are an animal, bird or figure hand carved from stone, shell, antler, wood or other natural materials, found in Zuni culture. Zuni fetishes were first carved as "hunting" fetishes. When taken on a hunting expedition they would ensure a plentiful and successful hunt. Each fetish is believed to have a spirit within. If treated and taken care of properly, it is believed that Zuni fetishes will help guide you on the right path of life. Supposedly certain Zuni fetishes have special powers. The bear fetish represents strength, the turtle fetish long life and the horse fetish has innate healing powers. When you purchase or are given Zuni fetishes it is your responsibility to care for them with the proper respect they deserve. Fetishes are believed to feed on corn meal. "Offerings" are often attached to the fetish by the artist, but some people make their own "offerings" to their Zuni fetishes by attaching a small stone or feather adornment. Some fetishes are thought to be magical in themselves; others get their magic from some divinity. Some fetishes are believed to be so powerful that only special individuals are allowed to handle them. For all others, the fetish is taboo. The line (called a heartline, considered to hold the power of the fetish) of coral or turquoise seen on some fetishes represents the living essence within the stone body, while the backpack, mentioned above as being added by the artist or buyer of the fetish, is placed as an "offering" to the animal spirits from which it draws its power. Common materials used by Zuni fetish carvers include serpentine, jet, turquoise, coral, travertine onyx, green snail shell and Picasso marble. The bear or "medicine bear" is one of the most popular and commonly made Zuni fetishes, representing strength, courage, power, good luck, and healing.
Thank you to the Penfield Gallery of Indian Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the background information regarding Zuni fetishes.