The following is a description of the design elements used in the Tree of Life / Corn Pollen Chant Navajo sandpainting. At the center is a Cornstalk which is one of the four sacred plants of the Navajo people – 1. Corn (used in wedding and healing ceremonies) 2. Squash 3. Beans 4. Tobacco The fanned feathers at the top of the Central Cornstalk symbolize the powers of clear thought and good judgment.
This ancient art form is rooted in complex Zuni religious beliefs. Zuni Fetishes are hand carved "animal totems" from the Zuni tribe in New Mexico. Fetishes were shaped from organic material to serve as abodes for spirits, and would impart their powers to those who carried them. The Zunis believe that the animal shares some of its traits with the bearer of a Fetish Carving. Each Zuni Fetish Animal has a different meaning and is used for different purposes.