A Group of Early Zuni Tourist Fetishes
- by Jamie Compton
- in New Gallery Item
- posted November 9, 2021
A group of early Zuni tourist fetishes were purchased from the Tres Compadres Ranch of the McMahon family of Houston, TX. Patricia Bennett McMahon (1929-2017) and her sister had one of the early art galleries in Santa Fe, NM and I imagine that these were purchased during that time. A few of these fetishes appear to be historic re-amped for tourist sales with embellishments. Most of them are attributed to Teddy Weahkee. One is attributed to either Leekya or his daughter Sara Dyuse. A few I have no idea about. If you care to share your opinion, then please reach out to me.
Two Mudhead Kachinas
The most amazing items in the grouping are what I would call two antler made mudhead kachinas. The largest one, measuring 5″ tall, is a tour de force. His antler construct is painted brown. His skirt is hide stitched up on the side. The skirt is secured with a belt of a large turquoise tab, a shell and other beads. The ears are pierce with earrings also having turquoise and beads. There are feathers tucked into the dress, and these do not appear to be either migrating bird feathers nor endangered feathers, meaning I assume they are legal.
The smaller of the two mudheads measures 3.9″ tall and is as sweet as they come. He looks like an astronaut floating in space with his arms stretched wide. Both of these mudheads are by Teddy Weahkee.
Other Fetishes attributed to Teddy Weahkee
The following 8 photos are all fetishes believed to be by Teddy Weahkee.
The two ones above are like flying little monsters, or like mosquitos gone viral! They are carved of antler and have been dipped in pinon pitch like in the old ways. There is an elongated arrowhead on the back of each of them, along with feathers, beads, turquoise tabs and what appears to be a bit of bear hair? They are magically creepy.
Above is the smallest of the fetishes by Teddy. The bear appears to be made with white jade, as the stone is very hard and has a wonderful sheen to it. There is a small turquoise arrowhead on the top with beads, feathers and bear hair?
The above 5 fetishes are all believed to be by Teddy Weahkee: a coyote or bear, an elongated coyote, a turquoise frog with turquoise #8, a turquoise badger and, finally, a dark turquoise coyote.
This black beaver above appears to be a much older fetish that has been remade in the tourist style. I have no attributions for its maker. The wear to the animal is substantial and the way it was made is more primitive, but in a good way. He has amazing charm to him, one of my favorites of the whole grouping. It’s so simple and humble and the natural turquoise eyes look deeply into you…
This above bear or badger also appears to be a much older fetish with great wear to the whole animal. The attached arrowhead and shells with sinew also appears old, but not as old as the stone. The animal could easily be a 19th century fetish with early 20th c. additions.
The above squirrel or ground hog is by either Leekya Deyuse or by his daughter Sarah. The patina to this critter is wonderful as well as its humble nature.
Finally, this bear is carved of antler and has great turquoise eyes. It’s possible this is by Teddy Weahkee, but I’m less certain on this one.