Bear Fetish Carved in Limestone


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Large Bear Fetish

This Large Bear Fetish is hand carved by Mark Swazo-Hinds and adorned with plume of feathers. The bear is carved out of Texas limestone and represents strength and the spiritual journey through life. It measures 10″L x 6″H with the feathers, it measures 14″L x 9″ H.

Carver: Mark Swazo-Hinds

Born in Berkeley, California, Mark Swazo-Hinds moved to Santa Fe in 1968 and then to the Tesuque Pueblo in 1972. He studied art at Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas and graduated from the Institute of American Indian Art in 1981. In his formative years Mark was surrounded by the art of his father, acclaimed painter Patrick Swazo-Hinds. While still in his teens Mark began to develop his now widely acclaimed artistic path carving award winning stone fetishes. He began to exhibit his unique sculptures at Indian Market in Santa Fe in the early 1980s shortly after graduating from IAIA. Mark’s work gives voice to his heritage, preserving historical customs, practices and rituals through traditional stone carving methods com- bined with the intricate ancient skills of creating powerful medicine bundles. Though he is influenced by traditional rituals and ceremonies, he specializes in creating contemporary sculptural works of art for a contemporary audience. Mark enjoys working with Indiana limestone, Italian marble, Utah alabaster among other stones and often uses natural red earth pigment for color and shells and ancient pottery shards bundled in exotic feathers for ornamentation. Upon completing a piece, he blesses it in the traditional Pueblo way before releasing on to its new destination, whether it be a show, a gallery, or a discerning collector. His unique fetishes can be found in collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the Zuni Indian Tribe of New Mexico.

Zuni Fetishes

American Indians have used fetishes throughout recorded history, especially the Indians of the southwest. A Zuni fetish is a carving which is believed to have magic powers.

Fetishes maybe of any form or material. Regardless of their material however, a fetish has one paramount purpose – to assist man against any real or potential problems which may be those of the mind, the body or the universe.

A fetish can be owned by an individual, a family, a clan; a kiva society or an entire tribe. Regardless of ownerships, the care of a fetish is always the responsibility of one person. Special care must be taken to see that the fetish is properly fed, admired and cared for. Fetishes are believed to feed on cornmeal while they are kept in a special pot or pouch. Ground turquoise is often mixed with the cornmeal.

A fetish is made and “decorated” with turquoise, arrowheads, coral, etc. as a means of adornment. This adornment is a show of affection and appreciation by its maker and/or owner. The better treatment a fetish receives, the better performance it is likely to provide.

Most fetishes relate to animals of prey. They are acknowledged as the most powerful providers in life, so they are likewise accepted as having the greatest powers. They are generally admired for their strong hearts. Many believe the strong heart makes them dominant and therefore, survivors; the hunter rather than the hunted.

The Zuni Indians of New Mexico believe strongly in six cardinal guardian fetishes. Each is symbolic of a direction and has its own specific color. The guardian fetish of the north is the mountain lion (yellow); the south (red) is the badger; the west (blue) is the bear and the east (white) is the wolf. Additionally, the mole is the guardian of the nadir or inner earth (black) and zepath is the eagle (all colored bird forms) guardian of the skies.

The power and strength of a fetish is obtained by placing the nostrils of the fetish to one’s mouth and taking deep breaths.”


Armadillo Slow, Sure, Gets things right. Keeper of the home
Badger Aggressiveness, Perseverance, the ability to reach a desired goal
Bat Guardian of the night, cleaner
Bear Strength, Introspection, spiritual journey though life. The white bear is medicine.
Beaver Builder, hardworking, power of working and attaining a sense of achievement
Bobcat Knows secrets, clairvoyance ability
Buffalo Endurance to overcome, great emotional courage provider to all
Butterfly The art of transformation, the ability to know or to change the mind
Coyote Laughter, humor and foolishness, the master trickster who tricks himself
Crow Keeper of sacred law
Deer Gentleness
Dog True friend, loyal
Dolphin Spirit of friendship, trust, loyalty
Duck Spirits of those who passed on
Eagle A connection with the divine, a soaring spirit that transcends Personal problems, creator, teacher, great integrity
Elk Teaches that pacing yourself will increase your stamina
Fish Ability to hide emotions, purifier
Fox Camouflage, protection
Frog Bringer of rain, abundance, and fertility
Hawk messenger of the gods
Horned Toad Longevity, self-reliance
Horse possesses healing powers, swiftness, strength
Hummingbird messenger, stopper of time
Lizard conversation, agility
Mole Keeper of the underground and crops
Moose Headstrong, unstoppable, longevity
Mountain Lion Leadership, resourcefulness
Mouse Paying attention to detail, scrutiny
Otter Laughter, curiosity, mischievous Women medicine, the balanced female side
Owl Can see what others can¼t, essence of true wisdom. Protector of the home.
Parrot Symbolic to the sun, as rainbows are the product of rain and sunlight
Porcupine The power of faith and trust
Quail Sacred spirit, ceremonial, holy
Rabbit The special guardian of women in child birth, also associated with safe birth and long life for children
Raccoon Bandit, shy, resourceful
Ram Sense of self worth,
Raven Magic, the messenger of the great mystery, a change in consciousness