Leekya Deyuse (Leekya) (1889-1966)

In 1942, John Adair, author of the classic study The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths, described Leekya Deyuse and Teddy Weahkee as Zuni's "most expert turquoise-workers." Leekya is perhaps the best known of all Zuni fetish carvers and his work garners the highest prices. Like Weahkee, he participated in the archaeological dig at Hawikuh (1917-1923) where he gained first-hand knowledge of pre-contact Zuni carving. Leekya worked with a number of traders, but his relationship with C. G. Wallace was probably the most productive. Most of Leekya's pieces were produced entirely with hand tools; however, in his later years he adopted electrical tools.

Leekya crafted stone tab and nugget necklaces, small fetishes that traders strung into single and multi-strand necklaces, and larger free-standing fetishes. Many of his fetish carvings were set into the tops of silver boxes crafted by Navajo artists in traders' employ.

Leekya sometimes collaborated with other Zuni artists. Among his collaborators were Dan Simplicio, Sr.

Leekya had seven children with wife Juanita Cooeyate, many of whom have become well-known jewelers and/or carvers. Sons Francis, Robert and Rodger and daughters Sarah and Alice achieved recognition, as have many of their own children.

Leekya Deyuse (Zuni) and John Silver (Navajo)
Silver Box with Tortoise Fetish
silver box (Navajo silverwork) with carved turquoise tortoise fetish on lid (Zuni fetish carving)
4.25 in. wide x 8 in. long
KMA 89.016.159

Leekya Deyuse (Zuni)
Eight-Strand, 124-Figure Fetish Necklace
Turquoise, jet, coral, abalone, silver
c. 1930s
28.5 in. long
KMA 89.016.694
Leekya Deyuse (Zuni)
Fetish Necklace
serpentine, turquoise, silver, coral, heishe, cotton
36 in. long
KMA 89.016.893
Leekya Deyuse (Zuni)
Turquoise Leaf Group
carved turquoise
no date
4.75 in. high x 4.5 in. wide
KMA 89.016.679


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