Teddy Weahkee (ca. 1890 - 1965)
In 1942, John Adair, author of the classic study The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths, described Teddy Weahkee and Leekya Deyuse as Zuni's "most expert turquoise-workers." A veteran of World War I, Weahkee attended school in Phoenix; and, upon returning to Zuni, he participated in the archaeological dig at Hawikuh (1917-1923) where he gained firsthand knowledge of pre-contact Zuni art forms.
Adair notes that, when Weahkee began working as a lapidarist and carver in the 1920s, traders typically provided artisans with turquoise and then employed another craft-worker to mount the stone on silver. The mythological Knife Wing figure was a popular design motif of this era. Such figures were produced by Weahkee and other Zuni stone-workers and then set on the tops of Navajo-made silver boxes. While Weahkee produced flat relief figures like the Knife Wing, he also carved full round animal forms. Some of these were similarly mounted on box tops, but others were sold as freestanding fetishes.
Weahkee became well-known for a style of fetish carving that closely resembles historic Zuni forms. He also carved highly distinctive human figures. Weahkee's daughters Edna Leki and Mary Tsikewa carried on the carving tradition, as did Edna's daughters Dinah Gasper and Lena Boone.
Weahkee also worked as a farmer and a guide; and, in the 1950s, he served as Zuni's governor.
Estate Zuni Fetishes: Pair of Turquoise Fetish Carvings by Teddy Weahkee
Turquoise with crystal inclusions; one of the finest pairs we have seen; additonal photos on request.
|Location of Origin: North America|
|Dimensions: The smaller fetish measures 2 3/8" h x 1 1/8" wide. The larger fetish measures 2 5/8" h x 1 5/8" wide|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : Native American Clothing and Antiques|
|Secondary Classification: Arts of the American West : Other|
|Tertiary Classification: Folk Art and Americana : Other|
|Fourth Classification: Folk Art and Americana|
|The Bow Priest is related to the Emergence Story of the Zuni as follows:|
EmergenceIn a version of the Zuni creation story told to anthropologist Ruth Benedict, people initially dwelt crowded tightly together in total darkness in a place deep in the earth known as the fourth world. The daylight world then had hills and streams but no people to live there or to present prayer sticks to Awonawilona, the Sun and creator. Awonawilona took pity on the people and his two sons were stirred to lead them to the daylight world. The sons, who have human features, located the opening to the fourth world in the southwest, but they were forced to pass through the progressively dimming first, second and third worlds before reaching the overcrowded and blackened fourth world. The people, blinded by the darkness, identified the two brothers as strangers by touch and called them their bow priests. The people expressed their eagerness to leave to the bow priests, and the priests of the north, west, south and east who were also consulted agreed.
To prepare for the journey, four seeds were planted by Awonawilona's sons, and four trees sprang from them: a pine, a spruce, a silver spruce and an aspen. The trees quickly grew to full size, and the bow priests broke branches from them and passed them to the people. Then the bow priests made a prayer stick from a branch of each tree. They plunged the first, the prayer stick made of pine, into the ground and lightning sounded as it quickly grew all the way to the third world. The people were told that the time had come and to gather all their belongings, and they climbed up it to a somewhat lighter world but were still blinded. They asked if this is where they were to live and the bow priests said, "Not yet". After staying four days, they traveled to the second world in similar fashion: the spruce prayer stick was planted in the earth and when it grew tall enough the people climbed it to the next world above them. And again, after four days they climbed the length of silver spruce prayer stick to the first world, but here they could see themselves for the first time because the sky glowed from a dawn-like red light. They saw they were each covered with filth and a green slime. Their hands and feet were webbed and they had horns and tails, but no mouths or anuses. But like each previous emergence, they were told this was not to be their final home.
On their fourth day in the first world, the bow priests planted the last prayer stick, the one made of aspen. Thunder again sounded, the prayer stick stretched through the hole to the daylight world, and the people climbed one last time. When they all had emerged, the bow priests pointed out the Sun, Awonawilona, and urged the people to look upon him despite his brightness. Unaccustomed to the intense light, the people cried and sunflowers sprang from the earth where their tears fell. After four days, the people traveled on, and the bow priests decided they needed to learn to eat so they planted corn fetishes in the fields and when these had multiplied and grown, harvested it and gave the harvest to the men to bring home to their wives. The bow priests were saddened to see the people were smelling the corn but were unable to eat it because they had no mouths. So when they were asleep, the bow priests sharpened a knife with a red whetstone and cut mouths in the people's faces. The next morning they were able to eat, but by evening they were uncomfortable because they could not defecate. That night when they were asleep the bow priests sharpened their knife on a soot whetstone and cut them all anuses. The next day the people felt better and tried new ways to eat their corn, grinding it, pounding, and molding it into porridge and corncakes. But they were unable to clean the corn from their webbed hands, so that evening as they slept the bow priests cut fingers and toes into their hands and feet. The people were pleased when they realized their hands and feet worked better, and the bow priests decided to make one last change. That night as they slept, the bow priests took a small knife and removed the people's horns and tails. When the people awoke, they were afraid of the change at first, but they lost their fear when sun came out and grew pleased that the bow priests were finally finished.
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121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
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