A brother of the renowned Abby Quam, Gabriel is also related to the Hustito and Lowsayatee carving families.
This striking bear fetish is unusual in its material, and in the number of medicine bundle elements on it.
Medicine bundles are gift offerings to the animal’s spirit. The bundles enhance its powers, and allow prayers to be heard more easily.
This streamlined form represents a bear, the Guardian of the West for the Zuni, and a powerful figure for many, if not most, other tribes.
Bears are revered for their strength, hunting and survival savvy, and protective qualities.
Carved from a warm-toned stone called Grand Canyon marble, the sleek form is nicely burnished.
Minimally detailed, the head and proportions are, nevertheless, definitely a bear’s.
Turquoise eyes – and nose! – are a striking, and pleasing, contrast to the rosy hue of the stone.
On his back, a long, gracefully tapered triangle of pale alabaster supports a shard of natural coral, secured with commercial sinew.
Uncommonly, there are two, black marble triangles – one on each side of the bear – that are also bound by the sinew. Extra prayer power, it would seem.
Modern, but traditional, too, this is a handsome way to protect your home, and ensure enough to eat, as well as feasting your eyes.