:"This article concerns the concept of fetishism in anthropology. For other uses see Fetish (disambiguation)."

A fetish (from French "fétiche"; from Portuguese "feitiço"; from Latin "facticius", "artificial" and "facere", "to make") is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular a man-made object that has power over others. Essentially, fetishism is the attribution of inherent value or powers to an object.


The concept was coined by Charles de Brosses in 1757, while comparing West African religion to the magical aspects of Ancient Egyptian religion. Later, Auguste Comte used the concept to apply an evolution theory to religion. In Comte's theory of the evolution of religion, he proposed that fetishism is the earliest (most primitive) stage, followed by the stages of polytheism and monotheism.

In the end, some artifacts certain monotheist religions (Holy Cross, Consecrated Hosts, etc.) use for their rites are other incarnations of fetishism. However, this vision is denied by monotheist practitioners. In the 19th century, Tylor and McLennan held that the concept of fetishism allowed historians of religion to shift attention from the relationship between people and God to the relationship between people and material objects. They also held that it established models of causal explanations of natural events which they considered false as a central problem in history and sociology.


Theoretically, fetishism is present in all religions, but its use in the study of religion is derived from studies of traditional West African religious beliefs, as well as Voodoo, which is derived from those beliefs.

Blood is often considered a particularly powerful fetish or ingredient in fetishes.In addition to blood, other objects and substances, such as bones, fur, claws, feathers, water from certain places, certain types of plants and wood are common fetishes in the traditions of cultures worldwide.

Other uses of the term "fetishism"

*In the 19th century Karl Marx appropriated the term to describe commodity fetishism as an important component of capitalism. Nowadays, (commodity and capital) fetishism is a central concept of marxism
*Later Sigmund Freud appropriated the concept to describe a form of paraphilia where the object of affection is an inanimate object or a specific part of a person; see sexual fetish.

See also

* Idolatry
* Animism
* Totemism
* Taboo
* Conspicuous consumption
* the book "Growth Fetish"
* Sexual fetishism

External links

* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06052b.htm The Catholic Encyclopaedia: fetishism] - The Catholic View.
* Andrew Lang, [http://www.psychanalyse-paris.com/852-Fetishism-and-Spiritualism.html Fetishism and Spiritualism] , "The Making of Religion", (Chapter VIII), Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. 147-159.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fetishism — • The word fetish is derived through the Portuguese feitiço from the Latin factitius (facere, to do, or to make), signifying made by art, artificial (cf. Old English fetys in Chaucer) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Fetishism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • fetishism — 1801, worship of fetishes; in the purely psycho sexual sense first recorded 1897 in writings of Henry Havelock Ellis (1859 1939), from FETISH (Cf. fetish) + ISM (Cf. ism). In certain perversions of the sexual instinct, the person, part of the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • fetishism — [fet′ishiz΄əm, fēt′ishiz΄əm] n. [Fr fétichisme] 1. worship of or belief in fetishes 2. Psychiatry an abnormal condition in which erotic feelings are excited by a nonsexual object, as a foot, glove, etc.: Also sp. fetichism fetishist n.… …   English World dictionary

  • fetishism — fetishist, n. fetishistic, adj. fetishistically, adv. /fet i shiz euhm, fee ti /, n. 1. belief in or use of fetishes. 2. Psychiatry. the compulsive use of some object, or part of the body, as a stimulus in the course of attaining sexual… …   Universalium

  • Fetishism — fetichism fe tich*ism, Fetishism Fe tish*ism (? or ?); 277), n.[Cf. F. f[ e]tichisme.] [Written also {feticism}.] 1. The doctrine or practice of belief in fetiches. [1913 Webster] 2. Excessive devotion to one object or one idea; abject… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fetishism — Fetish Fe tish, n., Fetishism Fe tish*ism (? or ?; 277), n., Fetishistic Fe tish*is tic, a. See {Fetich}, n., {Fetichism}, n., {Fetichistic}, a. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fetishism — [[t]fe̱tɪʃɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Fetishism involves a person having a strong liking or need for a particular object or activity which gives them sexual pleasure and excitement …   English dictionary

  • fetishism — fetish ► NOUN 1) an inanimate object worshipped for its supposed magical powers. 2) a form of sexual desire in which gratification is focused abnormally on an object, part of the body, or activity. 3) a course of action to which one has an… …   English terms dictionary

  • fetishism — also fetichism noun Date: 1801 1. belief in magical fetishes 2. extravagant irrational devotion 3. the pathological displacement of erotic interest and satisfaction to a fetish • fetishist noun • fetishistic adjective • fetishistically adverb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • fetishism — noun a) the belief that natural objects have supernatural powers, or that something created by people has power over people. b) a form of paraphilia where the object of attraction is an inanimate object or a part of a persons body …   Wiktionary