Bear Effigy Fetish

Bear Effigy Fetish


Region / Tribe: Southwest / Puebloan

Circa:    Prehistoric / 1100 - 1400 

Material: Hard grey stone, remnant of red coloration to surface, possibly hematite with animal(bear?) grease

Dimension: L. 6” by W. 2 1/4” by H. 3”

Condition: Overall Very Good. There are a number of exfoliation pockets primarily by the fore and hind legs. There are numerous nicks, cuts and scraps overall. The overall red surface is worn and appears most strongly on the underside. 

Collection History: Private New Mexican collection


Cushing, Frank Hamilton, Zuni Fetishes, K.C. Publications, Flagstaff, Arizona, 1966. Kirk, Ruth F., Introduction to Zuni Fetishism, Archeological Institute of America, Papers of the School Of American Research, Santa Fe, NM,1943. 

Holstein, Philip and Donnelley, Erdman, Enduring Visions: 1000 Years of Southwestern Indian Art, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 1979. 

Wright, Barton, Hopi Material Culture, Northland Press, Flagstaff, Arizona and the Heard Museum, 1979.


The sculpture is powerfully rendered in bulging minimalist volumes. The bear’s weight and muscle seem to expand in every direction. The creature’s stomach rides low to the ground. The hind quarters are thickly rendered and poised upward. 

Ancient tool marks are evident in the pecking, abrading, scrapping and polishing. The head is finely rendered with typically alert ears and pointed chin. There is a wide groove delineating the neck. Bands of sinew may have held beads of shell, coral, etc. along with feathers.

The relatively large size of this fetish suggests a home or clan altar rather than a personal body fetish. The now worn but still dramatic red surface implies symbolic ritual use.

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