Zuni Fetishes are small carvings made from various materials such as bone, shells and gemstones by the Zuni people. These carvings traditionally serve a ceremonial purpose for their creators and depict animals and icons integral to their culture. Each animal has great significance and meaning, many with protective abilities or healing powers. Fetish carvings are believed to have magical powers and protect or enhance the owner or craftsman. It is presumed to properly care for Zuni Fetishes that they should be given offerings of cornmeal and kept in special turquoise encrusted fetish pots or pouches.
The Zuni also divided the world into six regions or directions: north, west, south, east, above, and below.
Each direction is represented by a Prey God, or guardian animal, and are listed as follows:
north — the yellow mountain lion,
west — the black bear (represented by the color blue),
south — the red badger,
east — the white wolf,
above or the sky — the multi-colored eagle,
below or underground — the black mole.
These directional animals are among the most powerful and are the guardian and masters of their region.
Collectors worldwide collect fetishes as a form of contemporary Native American art with an appreciation for the craftsmanship and meaning behind each fetish. The meaning of each is provided within the product. However, over time many carvers started to create some non-traditional animals due to requests, region, and popularity. These non-traditional fetishes may not have the significance or abilities of other more traditional fetish carvings.