Vintage Zuni Handbuilt Fetish Pot
1970s Zuni Handbuilt Fetish Pot by Edna Leki (dec.)
Edna Leki is believed to have been Zuni's first female fetish carver and is the daughter of famed fetish carver and lapidarist Teddy Weahkee. Weahkee became well known for a style of fetish carving that closely resembles historic Zuni Pueblo forms. His daughters, Edna Leki and Mary Tsikewa, carried on the carving tradition, as did Edna's daughters Dinah Gasper and Lena Boone. Edna was also the mother of Anderson Weakhee.“Leki originally worked in channel inlay jewelry, but when her father reached an advanced age, she assisted him in fetish carving; and, thereafter, she devoted herself to carving. She and her father are credited with producing the first fetish bowls for the commercial market, rather than for ceremonial use. The pots themselves, to which Leki applied crushed turquoise and directional fetishes, were typically made by an Acoma potter.” Kennedy Museum of Art website
This fetish pot is the largest one we have ever seen by Edna. It is in fabulous condition, though the feathers that are normally placed behind the fetish figures are mostly gone. Four antler water serpents (Kolowisi) surround the top of the pot. The four fetishes around the lower part are two wolves (serpentine) and two mountain lions (Zuni rock). The figures are all affixed to the pot with leather.
The Zuni fetish pot is a spiritual object for the Zuni people. Each stone encrusted pot will have several small fetish carvings on its exterior and another inside the pot surrounded by dried seed from corn, squash and tobacco for its food. Fetishes are generally animals and occasionally supernatural spirits each of which helps the Zuni people. The bear, most frequent fetish to appear on pots, has the characteristics of strength, courage and introspection.
The Zuni people believe that as long as the fetishes have food, the people will have food. If a person is in a difficult situation, he or she can offer a prayer to the fetish asking for additional strength. If the fetish believes the person is sincere, its spirit leaves the pot and enters the individual's spirit through his or her mouth. Once the fetish has provided the needed strength, its spirit leaves the individual the same way it entered and returns to its home in the pot. This pot has a round hole in its side to allow the fetish to go in and out of the pot using a different opening.
This type of pot is often given as a gift in the hope that the recipient will never go hungry.
12 in. dia. complete x 9 in. tall