Eagle Family Fetish

Arvella Cheama


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Arvella Cheama is a sister of Fabian, Lance, and Wilfred Cheama. They form one of the most prestigious Zuni fetish carving families.

Their half-brother, Dan Quam, another highly honored carver, began the modern style of realistically detailed pieces, and the others soon followed, reaping awards through the past several decades.

This trio of eagles, sitting on a log -or branch, more likely, high up in a tree –  represents a family of these, most sacred of birds.

Eagles are the protective guardians of the skies, for the Zuni, and are revered by many other tribes, since they fly so high they seem to reach the heavens.

Here, three eagles are intricately and realistically carved from one block of Picasso marble, including the branch they are sitting on.

Papa eagle, is in the center, with a swiveled head, keeping watch for any danger to his family.

Mama sits next to him, equal in size; farther away, at the other end of the tree branch, sits their young eaglet, half-grown.

As befits southwestern eagles, all have inlaid turquoise eyes of bright, sky blue.

The eagle parents have clearly defined, and open-work beaks, giving them a properly fierce look; Baby has a smaller head, with a smaller and closed beak. He looks rather benign, compared to his parents.

Their individually carved talons grip their wooden perch, and their entire bodies, head to tail, are minutely incised to resemble feathers.

The artist has used the natural markings of the stone to emphasize their form: a swath of darker brown sweeps from the front, following the shape of the folded wings, all the way to their backs.

Their perch is also naturalistically carved, with a woody form and look.

A fine carving, by a recognized master of the art, that will guard your home or office – three-fold.

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