Picasso Marble Lizard

Wilfred Cheama


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Fetishes, originally lumps of rock that resembled a particular animal, were, and are, meant to convey the particular animal’s power for hunting, protection, healing, etc.

Wilfred, and his Cheama relatives, are one of the foremost carving families in Zuni.

They are famed for their breathtakingly realistic and detailed carvings, such as this one.

Although not part of the original pantheon of fetish animals, lizards are often considered to be protective and healing. They eat insects, including nasty ones, and thus protect crops and humans.

Carved from one piece of warm brown serpentine, this amazing lizard is poised on high alert, ready to leap or scuttle away, with one leg on a rock and the other off it.

Brilliant blue turquoise eyes are a beautiful contrast to the toasty stone, but it is the incredibly delicate detail in his scales, head, paws, and tail that impress the most.

The tail extends from the lizard’s back, between his legs, and curls around the edge of the base.

Sinuous, naturalistic, expertly married in shape to that of the stone slab, this is another triumph of this renowned carver’s art.

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