Zuni fetishes traditionally served a ceremonial purpose for their  creators and depict animals and icons integral to their culture.  According to the Second Annual  Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology as submitted by Frank  Hamilton Cushing in 1881, and posthumously published as "Zuni Fetishes"  in 1966,  the Zuni world is made up of six regions or directions. At the center of  each region is a great mountain peak that is a very sacred place.  Yellow  mountain to the north, blue mountain to the west, red mountain to the  south, white mountain to the east, the multi-colored mountain above, and   the black mountain below.  

  Each direction is represented by a "Prey God", or guardian animal, and  are listed by Cushing as follows: north - the yellow mountain lion,  west - the Black Bear (represented by the color blue), south - the red  badger, east - the white wolf, the sky or upper region - the  multi-colored  eagle, and the underground or lower region- the black mole.  Each prey  god is the "guardian and master" of their region with the yellow  mountain  lion being the elder brother of all animals and the master and guardian  of all regions. Each one of these regions contains an order of the  guardian animals, but the "guardian and master" of a particular region  is the elder brother to all animals of that region. For example, the  black  bear  is the guardian of the west and the elder brother of the prey god order  in that region.  These guardians are considered as having protective and   healing powers. They are held by the priests of the medicine orders as  if "in captivity" and act as  mediators between the priests and the animals they represent. The Prey  Gods are the "Makers of the Paths of Life".  Medicinal powers emanate  from  them and their powers as mediators is given through their relationship  to Po-shai-an-kia, the father of the medicine societies, the "Finisher of the Paths of Our Lives", the "auditor of the prayers".  

 Other Zuni fetish carvings depict animals and reptiles such as the frog,  turtle, buffalo, deer, ram, otter, and others. There are many  more subjects of contemporary carvers that may include dinosaurs, for  example, that would be considered non-traditional, or some insects and  reptiles that are traditionally more integral to Zuni mythology and  folklore, or to petroglyphs, symbolism, and the  patterns of design in pottery, e.g. dragonflies and butterflies, water  spiders, and lizards. There is also the corn maiden, a symbol of  fertility and the hope of a good harvest. Other animals, such as the horse, ram,  or sheep,  were carved mainly for trade.  The Zuni was not a horse culture but  their horse carvings were considered by the Navajo and the horse  cultures to  the north as having great power for the protection of their herds. Each  animal is believed to have inherent powers or qualities that may aid the   owner. The Navajo, for example, treasured and bartered for figures of  horses, sheep, cattle or goats to protect their herd from disease and to   insure fertility.    

 A carving may be signed by the carver, or not. Personalization by  signing a piece of art is a form of individualism that traditionally  violates  the Zuni notion of community purpose.  Native American cultures in  general traditionally viewed art objects as community property,  and Native languages did not have a word translating to "art". The  signing of artwork is a concept introduced to the Zuni by white  collectors at  the beginning of the twentieth century (ca. 1915) when artists began  signing their paintings, and most Zuni carvers did not begin signing  their carvings until the last part of the twentieth century. Often, though, a  Zuni carver feels that their own unique style is readily identifiable  and the  fetish's style will be enough to identify the carver as surely as would  any other mark. Some carvings are so intricate and small that it is  impractical to sign it, and there always is the fear that the piece could be  chipped, scratched, or otherwise damaged in the attempt. Most carvers  are the  recipients of a family tradition of style and have learned their skill  from parents, grand parents, or siblings, and have passed the art to  their own  children as well.  

 Besides being made from various stones and other materials, the fetish  may carry an offering of a smaller animal or a prayer bundle of carved  arrowheads with small beads of heishe. It may be adorned with a heishe  necklace, feathers, etchings representing ancient petroglyphs, or an  etched or inlayed heartline. These items are intended to protect  and feed the fetish itself. In regard to feeding, it is believed from  tradition that the Keeper of fetishes is required to feed a meal of  cornmeal and ground turquoise periodically and provide the carving with  access to water.  Fetishes are often kept in and attached to clay pots  adorned with ground turquoise.  The corn maiden, an icon so important in  Zuni mythology regarding fertility and a good harvest in an arid desert   agricultural environment, is often portrayed holding a bowl of ground  turquoise, sometimes trailing to the ground.  

 As far as describing the Zuni culture by the term "fetishism" it should,  like any other culture, be considered carefully and as a matter of  degree.  According to modern anthropology's definition of "fetishism"  every culture theoretically has its iconic worship of sacred things.  As   Cushing noted, to the Zuni a fetish is a "mediator" and represents the  "roar of the animal".  This is not a totemism or a strict fetishism as  witnessed in, for example, some African cultures or Alaskan native  tribes. The medicinal power of the fetish is a triadic relationship  between  the fetish, the owner, and Po-shai-an-kia. It is an idiosyncrasy shared by many cultures and as a matter of degree is always arguable.