American Indians and Art

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The Fetish Carvers of Zuni

Revised edition

Marian E. Rodee
James Ostler

Zuni pueblo in western New Mexico is renowned for its small carved stone animal figurines, or fetishes. A fetish is an object, natural or manmade, in which a spirit is thought to reside and which can be used to effect either good or evil. According to legend, when a man finds a rock that resembles an animal, he has in his possession one of the original animals turned to stone by the children of the Sun Father. Such a fetish has the soul or breath of the animal inside.

In recent years the market demand for fetishes from Zuni has spurred an increase in the number of carvers. Published in 1995 and now available from UNM Press, The Fetish Carvers of Zuni studies both the history of fetishes and Zuni's major contemporary fetish carvers, their art, aesthetics, and business.


Marian Rodee was curator of southwestern ethnology at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She is retired and is now a research associate at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.

James Ostler established the Pueblo of Zuni Arts and Crafts enterprise.

Published By Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

10.5 x 9 in. 112 pages 94 color plates., 103 halftones