Is my fetish necklace authentic Zuni?

I bought this necklace about 25 years ago from a shop in AZ. I don’t recall how much I paid for it nor whether it was presented as authentic or not. I’ve read the “real vs fake” info on this forum, but still am unsure of whether this is NA hand carved (Zuni?) or “fake”. There does seem to be a good bit of detail on the animals, however the (dreaded) armadillo makes me think it might not be authentic. There is some detail around the silver cone clasp. Can anyone give an opinion? Thanks so much for any insight; I really appreciate your time and expertise!

Are the eyes painted on or stone inlays?
Do the turquoise beads appear to be stone or plastic/glass?
I recently purchased some sterling cones like that. Almost the same detail.

photo of some new, old stock, (1980’s - 1990’s) fetishes that were marked Peru and Pakistan, I recently purchased. Do those on your necklace look similar in workmanship? Some of these have painted eyes. Some have inlaid/glued on glass eyes.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for your reply! It looks to me like the eyes are painted since it seems there are some areas that are slightly smeared. Here’s a super closeup; you can see the eyes better on the white and tan animals. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to tell if the beads are plastic, since I don’t know what to look for. They do seem fairly uniform.

One way to check the beads is to wipe them down with alcohol. Then put one between your teeth. Plastic feels different than stone.

Here are some not so good photos of two examples I have that contain similar turquoise beads.

The first contains block Sleeping Beauty beads. There is some slight color variation on the beads and other things that make them not perfect.

The second are natural, Kingman Turquoise beads. A lot more differences in size and colors.

I do not have any necklaces with plastic turquoise bea


Hope this helps some.

As a rule, statistically and without known pertinent facts about its origins, the odds are strongly against this being a NA product. The heishe beads are the pen shell type, which was imported in vast amounts from Asia, which is ultra cheap stuff–though NA artists (including Navajo folks) did and do use it. The turtle and other nonlocal animals are problematic, and the large “turquoise” bear is not a great sign either. If it were a Zuni necklace you’d have some documentation when you bought it, or should have, and it should have cost noticeable money above souvenir pricing. Did it? You don’t have to answer here, but if the shop was reputable and it was priced as a serious necklace, you’d have a fighting chance of it being authentic.

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Thanks to each of you for taking the time to reply to my post; your expertise is much appreciated. Based on your comments, I agree that this seems very unlikely to be authentic Zuni. I’m not terribly surprised or disappointed and will enjoy it for what it is. I’m grateful to you all for sharing your knowledge on this forum!

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It is a nice necklace that I would wear too.

Have seen, bought, and sold a lot of Zuni fetish necklaces back in the day. Early on the eyes were inlaid mostly with jet, or phonograph record, anything black that would stay in and take a shine. Later most of the fetishes I saw on the Pueblo simply had dimples drilled for the eyes and sharpie marker or enamel dabbed in. Much faster, and for what most of the traders wanted to pay (and still want to pay), it was a quick and easy solution.

ETA: some of these look like the eyes were inlaid with Heishe. Doesn’t necessarily mean authentic, but definitely “old school”

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Wow, who knew…eyes inlaid with phonograph records? Interesting, because most of the eyes on my fetish necklace are recessed and seem to be colored with some type of “paint”. The black eyes, however, aren’t recessed and seem to be inlaid with some type of shiny material. Maybe one of Elvis’ hit records??? :slightly_smiling_face: