March 22, 2020

Heartline Like a Wolf

Look closely, and you can see the feint makings of a heartline on that there wolf above, howling away at the cycles of the moon. 

I'd forgotten all about the decorative lines adorning the Zuni fetishes that populated every corner of my mom's Southwestern art gallery, and thus our home; until my nephew and buddy both told me that the wolf is their favorite animal, when I prodded for birthday drawing inspiration. 

So I drew this guy, and as I started blowing him out in post, it just dawned on me: he may not be a fetish per se, but he definitely need's that arrow. 

Though I could surprisingly remember what the inlaid line was called, the heartline, I couldn't even vaguely recall why it adorned the Native American stone-carved animal amulets that I loved so much. I just knew it was important, particularly to the Zuni tribe.

So I googled... heartline fetish, and found this at Antique American Indian Art, llc, a gallery that's apparently been around for some 50 years:

"This arrow is called a lifeline or heartline. It begins at the mouth where breath gives life and points to the soul (spirit) where faith and inner strength preside."

Cool, right? They also have a simple yet deep primer on Zuni fetish carvings in general:

"A fetish is an object believed to have magical powers. Fetishes may be of any form or material, however, a fetish has one paramount purpose: to assist man against any real or potential problems. The problems can be those of the mind, body, or universe."

Which could pertain to times like these, when our bodies and the universe are seemingly at odds, which is certainly messing with our minds. 

I suppose we could all use a magical assist right now. So if you're reading this, I'd like to offer up the virtual fetish above as a gift to you. I hope he helps you to remember where your faith and inner strength preside, and to keep any real or potential problems at bay, at least for the duration of a smile.