Honoring Corn Maiden

By Brandon Phillips

Animal: Corn Maiden, Material: Onyx
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The important harvest season comes in late summer. Brandon Phillips' Corn Maiden represents the life-giving bounty and traditional importance of Corn. Zunis and other Indigenous societies were farmers growing corn as a sustenance crop. Planted and harvested today, corn is called "the mother" because it’s cultivated from “Mother Earth”. Fetishes representing Corn Maidens are carved to acknowledge the way Corn Maidens saved the People from famine long ago by nourishing them with corn kernels from their bodies. The traditional way corn is used is a gift and blessing from the Creator. Many pueblo cultures give Corn Dances. It’s offered to metaphorically "feed" animal carvings in thankfulness for their traits in nature. Cornmeal or corn pollen is usually carried in a small leather pouch. When natural resources like game animals, irrigation water and clay are used, a prayer and a sprinkling of cornmeal are given in gratitude.

Brandon's onyx Corn Maiden feels nice to hold and measures about 2 3/4" tall, 3/4" wide and 5/8" deep. Facial features and accents are inlaid with turquoise. Sgraffito etching brings out further lovely detail.

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