Native American Horse Fetish from Jeff Bridgman


Fetishes are Native American representations of animal symbols, typically carved of wood, stone, antler, shell, or bone. The particular animal chosen represents the spirit of the animal or forces of nature. Usually made for good luck and possibly carried for personal protection, they may also have been made to bring good harvest or success on the hunt, or to diagnose or cure illness, and may have been used in ceremonial initiations.

Made circa 1880-90, this particular fetish is pieced and sewn from hide and cloth in the form of a horse, decorated with beadwork in patriotic colors that includes American flag imagery. Patriotic symbols are quite unusual on a fetish. Perhaps this one was made by an Indian for a white soldier. Generally it was mounted cavalry that served in the west and there was much alignment between certain native Americans and the white man. In the Indian language of symbolism with regard to fetishes, the horse was a healer, so the selection of this figure may have served dual purpose.