Zuni Fetish Carvings and Zuni Necklaces

Jeff Shetima

Jeff Shetima - Zuni sculptor and fetish carver

Jeff Shetima – Photograph circa 1998

I first met Jeff when he was still a teenager.  At that time his carvings were barely an inch or so long. Yet,  he showed great promise and Jeff and I began our partnership. I suggested that he make his carvings larger. There were a couple of reasons for that. At the time few people were making large carvings and I thought it was a niche Jeff could easily fill. But, more then that, Jeff would have the opportunity to better express his art through a larger canvas.  He could detail every aspect of the carving.

This all was very well received by the fetish buying public.

I thought how could Jeff’s ability at carving detail be put to even further good use. I showed him a technique seen in Native American Navajo jewelry called micro inlay.  I also introduced him to Ray Yazzie, a master at this kind of work. Micro Inlay is very fine chips of exotic gemstones placed one against another. We used this idea to place heart lines in his carvings. This too was very received and an audience was created for Jeff Shetima carvings; awards were won and dealers hound him for his carvings.

As wonderful as Jeff Shetima carvings are, they are not Zuni fetishes in the true sense of the word. Shetima’s carvings are better described as stone sculptures of animals depicted in their own surroundings. Zuni Fetishes on the other hand represent the spirit of deceased animals waiting to be reincarnated or reborn. These fetish animals are in a state of “suspended animation”. They still possess their special characteristics, but are frozen in stone waiting to come back to their next life. For example, a Zuni fetish eagle can give its holder the ability to see into the future. A bear offers its holder the possibility of great strength and healing.  For the owner of a Zuni fetish to access these special animal powers one literally breathes life into the fetish and inhales back the animals power and spirit. Zuni fetishes are also only one free standing animal. They are rarely, if ever, multiple animals in one carving. Zuni fetishes also often they have a heart line that is naturally in the stone or else put there by the carver.

Jeff Shetima Zuni Fetish Animal Totem

Jeff Shetima Zuni Six Direction Animal Totem

Carved from 1 Piece of Picasso Marble

7″ Tall

inlaid with natural high grade gemstones including turquoise, coral, opal, lapis and jet.



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