Fetish by Johnny Sheyka. This piece was made in the early 80s. He was the first to perfect fine inlayed fetishes. He inlaid the stones with the use of a fine Dremel drill. He had the ability to carve a nice fetish and then complete the inlay work himself. Johnny died in the 90s. The design is the same on both sides. It measures 2 1/4" by 4" $1,795
Fetish with inlayed inserts. The large inlayed insert was made by Zuni silversmiths, Fred and Lolita Natachu. Fred and Lolita made for me a number of these inserts depicting rainbow, knife wing, thunderbird, and sun face, all traditional Zuni figures. The smaller inlay inserts on the reverse side were made by Zuni silversmiths John and Rosalie Bowannie. It measures 4" by 5". The fetish was carved by a Zuni carver Prudencia Quam. She also set the inlayed inserts $895
Bear Fetish created in 1988 by Thomas Pine. In the early 80s I had an extensive collection of outstanding pieces such as this one. This piece has over 200 inlayed pieces on the top and one side. The back side is blank. This was painstaking work that took him over three weeks to complete. Thomas was an accomplished inlayer. This was his first fetish and he never did another one. He did not carve the fetish. That was done by Dewayne Upshaw. The inlay is slightly raised. It has over 200 inlayed pieces and measures 6" long and 4" high. The stones include spiderweb turquoise, sugalite, spiny oyster, mother of pearl shell, and jet. $4, 995
Leekya Deyuse was likely the most famous of the great Zuni silversmiths. I grew up with the likes of Bernard & Alice Homer, Lambert Homer, Dan Simplicio, Della Casa Appa, Juan Dedios, Warren Ondelacy, Byrant & Ester Waasta, Robert & Bernice Leekya, and many others; most of whom worked in my dad's shop in Gallup. Dad had developed his relationships when he was a partner with CG Wallace at Zuni in the early 40s. No single Zuni craftsman had or has the standing as does Leekya Deyuse; nor, is any Zuni's work so highly prized for collections. He regularly came into Dad's place and picked out a grocery bag of turquoise stones. He always choose low-grade, green turquoise because it was most adaptable for carving with little waste. It was also relatively soft. This was before turquoise stabilization. In a few weeks he would return with the bag full of carved fetishes. He would sort the fetishes by size, deduct the cost of the turquoise, and get paid. In those days fetishes were considered curios. Until the 50s he carved with a hand file. The market for fetishes did not develop until the mid-70s as I mention in A Good Trade. One thing I always remember about him was the turquoise slap earrings he wore. His earlobes were large because the earrings were on string. In about 1953 I was in Dad's store with a new baseball bat. Danny Simplicio always used to inlay my initials with turquoise on my bats. One particular day Old Man Leekya came in with his bag of fetishes. He saw what Danny was doing and gave me a fetish for more "power" in my bat swing. I remember this as that fetish. I took it with me to college and kept it since. It is 2 3/8" x 3" long. $12,000
In 1978 I was badly injured in a plane crash. My convalescence was slow and steady and I used alternative healing sources such as acupuncture and vegetable juice. When I finally returned to work, I layed on a picnic table in my office with my phone near my head because my back was immobile. One day shortly after I returned to work, a Zuni fellow came in to my office placed some fetishes around me, placed his hands on me, and proceeded to chant. He repeated the process several times a week for about six weeks.
Most tribes have fetishes in their culture; but none to the extent of the Zuni people. Fetishes to them represent directions (6) and creatures that are synonymous with admirable characteristics such as strength, speed, flight, and solitude. To receive the magic and healing with a fetish, a person places the fetish to his mouth and inhales.
Fetishes are adored as a reflection of personal care. Much like a woman wears makeup and earrings, a fetish feels good when it is adorned. And, like a woman, when it feels good about its care, it is more likely to respond with positive energy for its owner (the fetish, not the woman). In Zuni, fetishes are owned by individuals and clans. They typically live in a bowl with turquoise for prosperity, ashes for warmth, and cornmeal for food. Adornment such as arrowheads do not mean the fetish is for hunting.
When I started my company, Sunbear Trading, I chose the fetish above as my logo. It was made by Johnny Sheyka as a result of my desire to offer unique fetishes. He carved the fetish and then inlaid each stone with a Dremel drill. Soon after Johnny, his surrogate brothers, the Turpen (or Upshaw) brothers picked up on the craft. Johnny and Ronnie Turpen passed away in the late 80s. More information on them is in A Good Trade.
Included in this section on John D Kennedy Zuni fetishes are carvings of turquoise, and fossilized ivory from Alaska.
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer. Made in the 80s. $69
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer. Made in the late 80s. $24
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer. Made in the late 80s. 1" x 1 1/2" $69
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer. Made in the late 80s, 3/4" x 1" $29
Zuni Fetish carved from fossilized ivory.
1 1/2" x 4" $298
Zuni Fetish Mole. Mother of Pearl w/inlay
1" x 1 3/4" $59
Zuni Fetish made from Amber. 1" x 2" $149
Zuni Fetish decorated with a piece of lapis and a turquoise teardrop. It was made in the 80s. The label indicates Zeolite, but I don't know for sure. There is a natural chip on the back side. 2" x 2 3/4". $149
Zuni Fetish made of amber. Amber is fossilized tree resin (not sap), which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since the Stone Age. The most prized amber comes from the frigid waters of the Bering Sea. This heartline fetish measures 2 1/2" x 3". It was made in the 80s.. $359
Fetish by Johnny Sheyka Johnny both carved and inlayed this fetish. The heart line is a common fetish adornment. By placing the fetish to one's mouth and inhaling, the strength of a strong heart can be had. 1 3/4" x 3". $395
Fetish with Rainbow inlay The inlay inserts on both sides are flush with the fetish surface.The Rainbow inlay is by Fred & Lolita Natachu and the smaller insert on the other side is by John & Rosalie Bowannie. Prudencia Quam carved the fetish and set the inserts. All are from Zuni. 4" x 5" $895
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer, Made in the late 80s. 1 1/2" x 1" $49
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer.in the late 80s. 1" x 2" $79
Turquoise fetish made by Juana Homer in the late 80s. 2" x 3" SOLD $139
Turquoise fetish by Juana Homer. Made in the late 80s. 1 3/4" x 3" $149
Mountain Ram carving by Ronnie Upshaw. Carved from a single piece of turquoise. 3" x 3" $198
Bear Fetish by Stacey Upshaw, the youngest of the Upshaw brothers. Sterling silver concho leaf with heartline. 1 3/4" x 3". $79
Mountain Lion Fetish made from lapis. 3/4" x 2 1/2" $120
Zuni Fetish turquoise with lightning inlay 1" x 2" $120
Zuni Fetish Mountain Lion Mother of Pearl w/inlay.1/2" x 2 1/2" $59
Zuni Fetish made from Sugalite.
2" x 3" $149
Santa Clara pottery bear. Made by Ray Tafoya. 4 1/2" x 5". Ray was a prominent potter in the 1980s. He passed away at the age of 38 in 1994. $995
Sunface Fetish. Inlay on both sides. Other side is a 1/2" sunface. Inlay was done by long-time Zuni silversmiths John and Rosalie Bowannie. They made jewelry for my dad beginning in the early 40s when he was in Zuni. 3 1/2" x 4 1/2". Fetish was carved and insert set by Prudencia Quam. All are from Zuni. $595
Fetish with Knifewing inlay The inlay inserts on both sides are flush with the fetish surface. The Knifewing inlay is by Fred & Lolita Natachu. The smaller sunface on the other side is by John & Rosalie Bowannie. Prudencia Quam carved the fetish and set the inserts. All are from Zuni. 4" x 5". $895
For years the Bible of fetishes has been this book written in 1883 by Frank Cushing. He reprinted information that appeared in the Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethonology of 1881 as submitted to the Smithsonian Institution. The book has been used to reference fetishes and their meaning. At the time there were no electric grinding wheels as used today. The fetishes were carved with a file. They were very crude. In 1989 before I left the trading business, a large account wanted to do a fetish show. I agreed to provide a carver (DeWayne Upshaw) as well as a large inventory of fetishes. They wanted the show to reflect the history of fetishes from the late 1800s to the present. For that, they ordered 1,500 fetishes of the early tradition. DeWayne carved 1,500 fetishes such as those seen at the left. Just before the event, the buyer was told to scale back on the presentation. I ended up with over 1,000 of these fetishes. On the left are examples of these early fetishes as patterned from the Cushing book. There is a Mountain Lion, Wolf, and two bears. There are also birds. Not all fetishes are decorated. These replicas are being offered in a set of four at a cost considerably less than production cost.
Bear Fetish by Stacey Upshaw. Carved in the 80s. 3" x 4" $79
Carrier Bear Fetish w/turquoise bead Made by Ronnie Upshaw in the 80s. 3 1/2 x 5" $175
Zuni Fetish Very smooth. Little carving.
Signed AL. 2" x 4" $195
Armadillo carving by Ronnie Upshaw. Ronnie passed away in 2000 at a very young age. Carved from one piece of turquoise. 3" x 3" $198
Large Bear Fetish Made in late 80s. 6" x 6 1/2" $598
Mountain Ram fetish. 3" x 3 1/2" $169
Mountain Ram fetish. Made in late 80s. Alabaster 5 1/4 " x 4 1/2" $225
Book not included.
Turquoise Fetish by Juana Homer. Juana is the daughter of Bernard and Alice (Leekya) Homer and the granddaughter of Leekya Deyuse. Carved in the 80s. 2" x 4 1/2" $149
Carrier Bear Fetish w/coral beads Made by Ronnie Upshaw in the 80s. 3 1/2" x 5" $175
On Hold - Sale Pending
Old fetish replicas Four assorted $25
Turquoise Bear by Juana Homer. Made in the late 80s. $69
The carrier bear is part of Zuni mythology. This bear was used to carry blood from menstruating women. The blood was poured around the village perimeter in event of anticipated enemy attack. When the enemy stepped in the blood they became weak-kneed and vulnerable to counter-attack by the Zunis.