Pete Gasper, Sr. (1938 - ) and Dinah Gasper (1944 - )
and Dinah Gasper are credited with being the first carvers at Zuni
to inlay their fetishes with heartlines. Another innovation they
developed is a method of signing fetishes that involves inlaying
a small circle of silver on each piece that bears their hallmark.
Pete and Dinah carve fetishes in the traditional style for which
Dinah's family has become known. Dinah Gasper is the daughter of
Edna Leki and the granddaughter of Teddy Weahkee. Like her mother,
Dinah assisted Weahkee with his fetish carving. As a teenager, Dinah
helped by drilling shells and assembling fetish bundles.
Pete originally studied painting at the Santa Fe Indian School in
the mid-1950s under the tutelage of Geronima Cruz Montoya. After
meeting Dinah and returning to Zuni, he applied his artistic skills
to jewelry and fetish carving and eventually taught silversmithing
at the Zuni Craftsmen Cooperative Association.
At one time, Pete and Dinah carved mostly water creatures (frogs,
turtles, tadpoles, fish, etc.), but they have also produced a wider
range of animals, including wolves and bears. They are known for
their highly detailed fetish necklaces, some produced in rare materials
such as amber or fossilized ivory. They have been the recipients
of numerous first place awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market and
the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial.
Pete and Dinah's daughter, Debra Gasper, and their sons Braden (deceased),
Elroy, and Peter, Jr., have carried on the family tradition of fetish
Peter & Dinah Gasper
Fossilized ivory, shell
28.5 in. long, carvings: .84 in.
Lena Boone, Rosalie Lunasee, Pete and Dinah
Alabaster, Marble, Mother-of-pearl, coral, turquoise, Chrysoparse,
serpentine, flourite, variscite, sugilite, pipestone, Zuni stone,
Bassman, Theda. Zuni Jewelry. West Chester, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing,
Ltd., 1992, p. 20-21.
Bell, Barbara. Zuni, The Art and the People v. 2. Grants, N.Mex.:
Squaw Bell Traders, 1975, p. 34-35.
Finkelstein, Harold. Zuni Fetish Carvings. Decatur, Ga.: South West
Connection, 1994, p. 21.
McManis, Kent. A Guide to Zuni Fetishes and Carvings. Tucson, Ariz.:
Treasure Chest Books, 1995, p. 10, 16, 36.
McManis, Kent. Zuni Fetishes & Carvings, one-volume, expanded
edition. Tucson: Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2004, p. 12, 19, 78, 79.
McManis, Kent and Laurie. Zuni Fetish Carvers of the 1970s: A Bridge
from Past to Present. Santa Fe: Wheelwright Museum of the American
Indian, 2006, p. 66, 22.