“This family has helped set the standard for much of contemporary Zuni fetish carving….” So says one of the foremost reference books on Zuni fetish carvings.
Nephew of Stewart Quandelacy, one of the best known, most eagerly collected, award-winning artists of the family, Stuart has carried on the family tradition and has almost outdone himself with this magnificent carving of Corn Maidens.
Using the natural forms of the large seashell, he has carved graceful Corn Maidens on one side.
Each Corn Maiden sports a row of tiny stones: turquoise, red coral, mother of pearl, in an appropriate yellow hue, and jet. Each Maiden is beautifully etched into the shell itself.
The larger one has an eagle feather rising above her head, a sign of prayer, and wears a blanket decorated with storm and wind signs, and crosses.
Storms result in ample water, which results in a good harvest; the crosses mean that the blessings of rain and corn should extend to all four corners of the earth.
Below this Corn Maiden, a large circle of turquoise shavings, like a pond, is surrounded by dragonfly symbols and coral dots. These signify a balance between water and earth, which the red coral represents.
The other, narrower, Corn Maiden emerges from more dragonfly symbols and crosses, to blend seamlessly into a majestic eagle, soaring up to the sky.
Eagles are revered because they fly so high they seem to carry prayers and hopes up to the heavens. In this case, the prayers are for an abundant harvest; therefore, health and happiness.
Notice that the eagle’s beak is completely cut out – a really virtuoso bit of carving.
On the other side of the shell, the reddish ridges are reminiscent of the red rocks and earth of the landscape. Here, the artist has set an inlaid Sunface. Many etched and inlaid dragonfly symbols flit over this side of the shell,.
Along with rain and the land, the sun creates the ideal balance of Nature.
A magisterial fetish that is not only impressive and beautiful, but traditionally significant.