Carl Etsate carved this olla dancer corn maiden from deer antler. She carries a beautifully decorated pot on her head with crushed turquoise. Her eyes are inlaid jet and turquoise , with a catlinite dot mouth. The corn kernels are well carved, as well as the geometric designs, and there are inlaid dots of turquoise, jet, and catlinite. Her engraved hair goes all the way from her head to the bottom on the back. (More on olla dancers and corn maidens below.
Size: 3" H x .75 Diameter
Zuni olla maidens are women who dance with fragile water jars, or ollas, balanced on the top of their heads. These women play an important role in Zuni, acting as cultural ambassadors for the community portraying and preserving cultural traditions for future generations. Zuni Olla Maidens sing songs of their own composition in their language, as well as those written by male community members. They dance with drums, rattles, and instruments that sound like frogs.
Corn maidens represent everything good about being a woman: strong, kind, compassionate, nurturing, and powerful. There are many Indigenous stories about how corn was brought to the people at a time when there was hunger, and how a sacred, sometimes other worldly, female being brought them corn. Corn maidens come with a card detailing the meaning, the carver, and the material they are carved from.
Traditionally, Zuni carvings are symbolically fed cornmeal. Each Zuni fetish comes in a box with a descriptive card and a tiny bit of corn meal to tide them over until they reach you.