Shell Corn Maiden Fetish

Chad Quandelacy


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Son of Stewart Quandelacy, and grandson of the late Ellen Qualdelacy, both luminaries of fetish carving, Chad has developed his own style.

This ingenious and beautiful Corn Maiden fetish is a stunning example.

Starting with a voluptuously curvaceous, natural green snail shell as his material, he has carved no fewer that five ( 5!) individual Corn Maidens into the cut-out shell, adding inlaid little stones, as well.

The handsome form of the shell, and its variations of texture and color, are a fascinating base for the carvings.

Leaving part of the shell open, so the gorgeous, iridescence of the interior is exposed, is a lovely contrast to the incised carvings, and natural textures of the shell’s exterior.

There is one, little full-figured Corn Maiden, with flowing hair, just above two others: one is just a head, with flowing hair on each side, cascading like rainfall.

Her one-shoulder dress is inlaid with three tiny turquoise stones.

The other Corn Maiden, next to her, is a full figure, with every kernel carved out, and one turquoise in her body.

Tapered corn leaves flank her, one inlaid with a tiny red coral.

On the other side of the shell, two more Corn Maidens are carved and etched, one with a red coral on her body, the other with a turquoise.

Again, their long hair, and the leaves of the corn stalk suggest rainfall, which is necessary for thriving crops.

In between the Corn Maidens, incised dragonflies on smoothly polished bands of the shell.

They represent more water, since dragonflies live on and above water ways.

Above them, the shell is incised with angular lines,  punctuated with a tiny coral and jet.

These represent flowing water, like a creek or stream.

Sun and water in balance promote healthy harvests, and happy people.

Water is  rare and precious resource for the dry farmers of Zuni, so the symbolism of this modern fetish is very traditional.

Creative, technically expert, and quite beautiful, this is a fetish carving for the 21st-century, but rooted in the past.



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