Fetish-Musk Ox TB
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Saturday, December 25, 2010
Texas, United States
This is not collectible.
Use TB403JY to reference this item.
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Please drop this item in rural OR Premium Member Only caches. Do not place it in an urban cache or abandon it at a caching event. Transport the bug in the original plastic bag for as long as the bag lasts; the bag keeps the trackable clean and prevents tangling with other items. Otherwise, take the travel bug anywhere you wish. No permission is needed to leave the U.S.
Photos in the travel bug logs are appreciated. I will be re-post them here, where they can be seen by other cachers.
About This Item
I have a small collection of animal fetish carvings. This is one of a series of travel bugs showing some of my favorite pieces.
Fetishes are an animals or figures carved from natural materials-- stone, minerals, gems, shell, antler, wood, amber, coral, fossil ivory and probably many more. Most of mine are quite small, less than two inches in height or length. Most of my collection is from Zuni artisans (New Mexico), but I also have items from carvers in other western states, including Alaska.
The original fetishes were probably some items that just resembled something, a bird maybe, and mystical powers were often ascribed to it. Using primitive tools the distinguishing features were often embellished. Over centuries there became specialists in fetish carving and it eventually grew into an art form. Leekya Deyuse (a Zuni), made jewelry and fetishes in the 1920s and some of his fetish necklaces are now valued at more than $20,000. However, the average cost per piece in my collection is probably around $65. While many still believe in the power of fetishes, in the present time most them are for sale to tourists and collectors. If you doubt this, just go to the shops in Zuni (and elsewhere) and note the mass production using grinding wheels, belt sanders and Dremel tools.
According to Zuni tradition there are guardian animals of the six directions; these were used in kiva rites. Zunis also believe that animals, as well as inanimate objects and the forces of nature, have a spirit force, which can either help or hurt man. It is believed that the carved animal fetishes host that spiritual force and, if treated properly, will help their owners to overcome the problems facing them. The muskox is not among these mystical animals, and furthermore, there are fetishes for sale of animals not native to the American west—zebras, elephants etc. The muskox occurs only on the arctic tundra of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. I believe these carvings represent an artist's natural inclination to test his/her limits, not to mention opening up a new market.
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