Native American Bear Fetish by Claudia Peina


Bear Fetish

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Native American Bear Fetish by Claudia Peina

About Claudia Peina

Over the years, Claudia has created numerous unique images – warrior maiden, ‘Hopi’ maiden, olla maidens, grinding woman, bread maker, bow priest, corn maidens and even haloed angels. She is also well-known for her single and double frogs, domestic cats, rabbits, turtles, owls and bears.

Claudia’s images exhibit happiness, freedom and carefreeness – all a reflection of her own personality.

Mentors include maternal grandfather George Haloo CheeChee, maternal aunt Rosalia Quam and uncles Miguel and Ramie Haloo and her beloved deceased brother and original carving partner Colvin Peina. She has also mentored others, including most recently her husband Kal Kallestawa, an accomplished jeweller. Together working as a team, they are able to satisfy the huge demands for her designs, while he continues making his distinctive earrings and pendants.

When new ideas for carvings are offered to her, Claudia will spend a few moments in silence and then announces that, yes, she ‘sill give it a try’. She always succeeds and thus is born yet another innovative design by this most creative Zuni fetish carver.

Her most original and imaginative carvings are in elk antler. Claudia’s recent series of standing bears are known as ‘Good News Bears’, small figurines in a dozen or more poses and ‘attitudes’. They each bring joy to the beholder and are created with skill, speed and dexterity rarely seen among carvers.

About Fetishes 

American Indians have used fetishes throughout recorded history. A fetish is an object believed to have magic powers. These, made by artists among the Zuni Indians of New Mexico all relate to animals and are carved in semi precious stones.

Most always, these animals are animals of prey. As the most powerful providers in life, they are accepted as having the greatest fetish powers. The Zuni Indians believe in six cardinal guardian fetishes – the mountain lion, the badger, the wolf, the bear, the mole and the eagle.

A fetish has one paramount purpose – to assist man against any real or potential problems. It can be owned by an individual, a family, clan or whole tribe but is always the responsibility of one person. Social care must be taken to see that the fetish is properly fed admired and cared for. They are believed to feed on cornmeal while kept in a special pot or pouch.

The adornments on the backs of the festishes in turquoise, coral etc represent arrow heads or feathers to enhance the fetish’s power. Shell or bead adornment is a show of appreciation by its owner. The better treatment a fetish receives, the better performance it is likely to provide.

The power and strength of a fetish relates to the capabilities of the animal portrayed and is obtained by taking deep breaths from the fetish’s nostrils.

Meaning Of The Bear – Inner Strength 


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