Serpentine used in Native American Fetish Carvings

When we buy Zuni and Navajo fetish carvings and aren’t positive about the stone used, we ask and are often told “serpentine”. You might think that is a catch-all category but when you really look into it, you’ll find that serpentine comes in a wide variety of colors. It is one of the oldest stones used for carving, as early as prehistoric times.

Serpentine can range from green to pink and everything in between including tan, brown, red, black, yellow, gray and more.

A very popular and traditional stone “fish rock” is actually serpentine. It is a light stone usually with small splotches and veining.  Here are some examples of fish rock serpentine.

FH261-fishrock-shack-2

FC306-badger-fishrock-yazzie-3

Ricolite is another serpentine that is dark green with grey or light green bands.F240-frog-serpentine-lementino-1

F238-frog-serpentine-poncho-1

Here are some other examples of serpentine.

FT245-buffalo-serpentine-bird-laiwakete-1

FC276-lion-serpentine-davis-1

FC287-coyote-serpentine-siutza-1

F282-lizard-kallestewa-1

Serpentine is widespread in California where it is the state rock. Here is a photo of serpentine along a beach.

bigserpentine800To read more about serpentine and see more examples, click here.

Here is an interesting glossary Gemstone Terminology

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you have a comment about this post, either click the cartoon balloon in the upper right hand corner of this post or the Leave a Reply link at the bottom of the post.

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5 thoughts on “Serpentine used in Native American Fetish Carvings

  1. I’ve heard that serpentine gets its name from the characteristic of feeling very smooth and slippery, like a serpent – is this so?

  2. The smooth, silky feel you get when petting your favorite snake is similar to a highly polished and buffed piece of serpentine (and quite a few other stones) but the real snake connection is the mottled colors – very camo. Serpentine is a very cool stone. Cool, did I say that snakes are cool to the touch?

  3. Hi

    Snakes are not slippery that is just a myth. Some of these animal patterned (natural stones) look great. There a few stones like that.
    Georgia

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