Native American Jewelry-Fetishes-Pottery
 


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   The Zuni people incorporate six theories in their religious beliefs, including
   animism, totemism, causilty, ancestor veneration, fear and fetishism.
   Often tribal societies will adopt two or three of these theories and marry
   them into a central belief; the Zuni adopted all six and, for generations, have
   successfully incorporated them into one practice. Though strictly defined,
   fetishism is the worship of the spirits which reside within material objects;
   it also involves elements of causality in defining the hierarchy of the fetishes.
  

This hierarchy is based on ones degree of dependency on other life forms
and mysterious behavior. Under this criteria, man, the most dependent and
least mysterious, is the lowest form and the most removed from the deities.
For man to communicate with the deities he must use those above him as
a conduit. Animals are close to man because of their mortality but are
closer to the deities than man because they are more mysterious and possess powers which man does not.  Additionally, the better understood an animal is by man, the lower his standing in the animal hierarchy for example, domestic pets would be lower in status than their wild relatives.

Fetishes serve many purposes and come in many different forms.  The fetishes of prey are probably the best known.  According to Zuni legend, Po'-shai-an K'ia, father of the sacred bands, was surrounded by six warriors for protection. He appointed his warriors to be the guardians of the six regions of the earth and all other residents within their region fell under their guardianship.

The Mountain Lion (Long Tail) was appointed as Master of the gods of prey and guardian of the North. Stout-hearted and strong-willed. Po'-shai-an K'ia designated that he would become the Maker of Paths(of men's lives) and his color would be yellow, the color of his coat.

The Black Bear (Clumsy Foot) became the Master of the West for his coat was the color of the night.  The Bear's color is the Blue of the Pacific and he is revered for his strong Healing powers and abilities to protect and provide for his charges.

The Badger (Black Marked Face) was appointed Guardian of the South and his color is the Red of the distant mountains.  He is highly regarded for his perseverance in the face of adversity.

The East was assigned to the Wolf (Hang Tail) and his color the white of the daylight.  The Wolf is extremely loyal and possesses the cunning to fend off one's enemies.

The Mole, Master of the lower region, exhibits flexibility and fidelity. His color is black. The mole's burrowing ability illustrates why  he is revered.  He has the flexibility to change direction at a moment's notice to avoid danger and his burrows often become traps for his predators.

The Eagle (White Cap) guards the Upper region.  The Eagle represents all colors and is said to be indefatigable.  He tirelessly flies around his domain preserving its openness.  He symbolizes free spiritedness.

The Zuni believe that their carved effigies of these animals embody the same traits and powers as their living forms and can provide their possessors with similar traits if their likenesses are well cared for by those bearing them.