Bryson Bobelu is one of our favorite Zuni carvers and friends. He lives with his lovely wife Michela and son Devon. Michela makes the absolute best tortilla chips and guacamole dip I have ever enjoyed. Bryson talks about himself, learning to carve, and the deep spiritual meaning it holds below.
Keshi (Greetings from Zuni)
My name is Bryson Bobelu of the Frog Clan and child of the Eagle Clan and a member of the Zuni Pueblo. In the early 70's when I was 15 years old, I would watch my gandpa, Saul Yuselew, and uncle, Harry Bewanika, who was almost blind, carve fetishes outdoors at their home. I would sit next to them, asking what they were making. They would always tell me they were carving bears and birds, traditional to the Zuni. I was always amazed to see their finished pieces, which had been so carefully carved and then were sold to provide income for the family.
At the same time, after watching and learning from them, I started carving on my own. Also at that time, I learned that the late Leekya Deyusee was my great grandfather, who is now considered one of the most famous fetish carvers from Zuni. His work can be seen in many museums across the United States. Fetish carving has been passed down in my family for many generations. Today, my family is keeping this tradition alive.
I like to use rock found in my homeland, Zuni, New Mexico, for my carvings. I usually make animals, bids, and some reptiles. The most important animals I carve are mountain lions, bears, badgers, wolves, coyotes, and bobcats which belong to the six directions according to our religion. These are the most powerful fetishes that are carved and are used by my people and other tribes for hunting, protection, and healing.
I hope that future generations of Zunis will keep carving fetishes for all, so there will be blessings and healing for all the world.
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