Fetish Spirit Rock, “Amfalulu”


I received an intriguing message from Tom Johnson, who is looking for information about a unique rock. He is reaching out to gather insights about the origin and nature of this remarkable item, which he refers to as “Amfalulu.” We would appreciate anyone who can provide valuable insights about this rock art.

Tom said the unique item has been in his family for at least 3 generations. Perhaps it’s an ancient fetish spirit rock?

“Amfalulu” was what my grandmother called this unique stone. I don’t know when, where, or how she came by it, or that moniker. She lived in Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, and California from 1867 to 1952. She was an artist with interests in natural history and Native Americans. She had traveled to Europe and Russia as a child with her acquisitive father. She studied painting in Paris in the early 1890s and loved to paint nature and animal subjects in the American Southwest.

The smoothly sculpted, grayish-brown rock weighs 15 pounds and is about 14” x 7” x 5” in size. It feels about like granite, having a similar density of 2.5 and being a homogenous, smooth, non-sparkly stone. Its contours are asymmetrical and artistic. So while the material is of natural origin, it surely was handworked by design, ruling out it’s being a coprolite or accidental natural artifact. Its significant hardness further implies that it was worked in earnest by a skilled craftsman with definite intention. And its hefty weight suggests that it would have occupied a stationary spot in its community setting, rather than being actively mobile on a daily basis.

The more pointy end appears to have a face simply and subtly carved into it. That face consists of two eyes and a mouth etched carefully into the rock. Whether that adornment was added by the original craftsman or subsequently by someone else, it also was executed with substantial stone working skill.

The “face” is what suggests to me that it may be a spirit rock for some indigenous people. I have no other information to indicate that it is a spirit rock or anything else for that matter. I only have guesses and questions.

Wild thought – In the interest of potentially using advanced forensic analytical methods, I have not washed the artifact. Though the surface is fairly smooth, small dust particles from times gone by could reside in its pores and cracks. With equipment like advanced optic microscopy, possibly those particles could help us to track dates, locations, and more. Who knows, someday we may be able to learn more by sensing and deciphering electromagnetic patterns lodged in such objects.

Can you help me solve this mystery by suggesting ideas, contacts, and resources? Thank you!

Tom Johnson
SF Bay Area, California

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