NATIVE AMERICAN FETISH & SYMBOLISM in Distinctively New Mexico Artwork
Fetish carvings and Native American symbolism found frequently on crafts items like pottery, jewelry, bead or leather work, paintings, carvings, etc are part of an ancient culture and religion which is extremely complex. Zuni fetishes, known to the Shiwi people as wemawe, are small stone animal carvings made by talented artisans of the Zuni Pueblo. Due to the remote location in Northwest New Mexico, the Zuni people have been able to retain a great deal of their culture and religion despite being among the most studied Native American people by anthropologists, past and present. It is my experience that though Native American culture and tradition can differ between tribes/sects, there are many agreed to meanings of the symbols found throughout the craft works, etc. Inn at Pueblo Bonito features several Native American Artisans from local NM Pueblos- two of which are Marilyn Ray (Acoma) and Vera Tenorio (Santo Domingo). Well known and respected artisans within their Pueblo cultures- each proudly carry on ancestral traditions of craftsmanship and storytelling. The following should provide some insight as to meanings of Native American symbols, Native American fetishes, and materials used in their artwork.
Native American Symbolism Guide
Bears: symbolizes physical strength, leadership and is known as the “first helper”.
Bear Paws: are a symbol representing inner strength.
Feathers: symbols of prayers, marks of honor or sources of ideas. They represent a Creative Force.
Kokopelli: a common fertility symbol thought to bring fertility to women drawn to his flute playing. He also represents the spirit of music.
Eagle: Master of sky; carrier of prayers. Admired for bravery and special connections to the creator.
Buffalo: Spiritual protector bringing nourishment to body & soul. A White Buffalo symbolizes peace.
Dream Catcher: It is believed the web tangles bad dreams & prevents them from passing through. Good dreams slip through the center. Each morning sunlight purifies the web of bad dreams.
Arrowhead: Represents the hunter and symbolizes the adventurer within each of us.
Zuni Bear: The Guardian of the Earth. A heart-line arrow going from head to heart symbolizes a warrior’s heart is strong like the bear’s.
Native American Stone Meanings
CORAL: is known to be very soothing and very protective. It is of an organic origin, being the skeletal remains of marine animals called Coral Polyps. Colonies of these tiny creatures build branching structures as they grow, gradually forming reefs and atolls.
TURQUOISE: It is believed that turquoise tends to bring good fortune, strength and helps overcome illness. Turquoise got its name from the Levantine traders called Turks who brought the stone to Europe from Persia via Turkey centuries ago. Native Americans have prized turquoise since the time of the Aztecs, who mined it in New Mexico. The natural variations that occur in turquoise are part of their appeal and beauty.
RUBY: A gemstone, ruby is thought to speed the healing of body, mind and spirit. It is believed to aid in psychic development while it energizes. It’s a good stone for just about everyone.
LAPIS: Lapis is the perfect stone for wisdom and fortitude. It is also believed to be an excellent stone for decision makers. It helps increase psychic ability.
OPAL: Most people know Opal for it’s distinctive play of color, it is semi-transparent solidified mineral composed of silicon and water, and it gets its name from the Latin word “Oplus” meaning precious stone. Opal is October’s birthstone. It is believed to release self-consciousness allowing spontaneous action, and awakens one’s psychic and mystical qualities.
ONYX: It is a semi-precious gemstone, and it is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. Onyx is also known to be a calming stone. Native Americans believe it collects negative energy from you while wearing it.
MALACHITE: It is famous for its radial banding and deep green color. Popular today for use in Southwestern Indian jewelry, malachite was also popular in the past with the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. It was worn as a good luck charm to keep away danger and illness. It is believed to balance and stabilize ones emotions.
TIGER”S EYE: Also called Tigers eye or Tiger eye is a chatoyant gemstone. Tiger Eye stone contains a golden yellow reflection on a brown ground color. The most important source of tiger eye is South Africa, but it is also found in California. Native American Indians believe it conveys courage and protection.
PEARLS: Pearls are known to stabilize and balance emotions. They are believed to help your body in using calcium better. For Native Americans pearls are full of purity and integrity.
RHODOCHROSITE: A mineral mined in the U.S., rhodochrosite is known to strengthen self- identity; helps heal deep emotional trauma and balances with a loving vibration. JET: It is an organic gemstone which was highly popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. It has been traditionally fashioned into rosaries for monks. In the U.S. long necklaces of jet beads were very popular during the 1920s, or Roaring Twenties, when women and young flappers would wear multiple strands of jet beads stretching from the neckline to the waistline. Today it is used to beautify Native American Indian jewelry.
Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast inn- Santa Fe, NM proudly features both of these talented Native American Artists and their crafts in our gift gallery. Unique and culturally different New Mexico locally crafted gifts- perfect for gift giving. Valentines is coming up…..why not consider giving the gift of travel and experience our unique historic adobe pueblo-style downtown Santa Fe Bed Breakfast. Book Now and experience a one-of-a-kind New Mexico lodging experience! Give us a call 1-800-461-4599 and allow us to assist you. www.pueblobonitoinn.com