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Girl Holding Lamb

C4158i-paint.jpg

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Harrison Begay (1917-2012) Haashké yah Níyá - The Wandering Boy
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    15” x 12-¾”: image;
    18-⅞” x 16-¾”: framed
  • Item # C4158i
  • Price: $1,675.00

Spanish settlers arrived in New Mexico in 1598. They brought with them Old World animals—sheep, goats, horses, cows, pigs and chickens. Almost immediately the nomadic Navajo became adept in the husbandry of sheep and goats.  For the last four hundred years, these animals have been an integral part of Navajo life and culture. They provide food, clothing and an economic livelihood via the creation and sale of wool and items woven from wool—blankets and rugs.

With the advent of modern technologies and opportunities to work off the reservation, the importance of sheep and goat herding has diminished. While very few of today’s Diné families raise sheep, the cultural value of sheep is very much still recognized. A Diné friend of ours who shepherded as a child fondly recalls that, “Little goats were really friendly, and for them to eat out of your hand was common...Sometimes we got to sleep with the lambs and baby goats at night. Only because we bring them into the hogan on cold nights. That way they won’t die from the cold. They were an important part of our lives, kinda like family.”

Artist Signature - Harrison Begay (1917-2012) Haashké Ya Níyá-The Wandering BoyHarrison Begay’s paintings are a romantic reminder of the importance of sheep to the Diné people.  This piece, in particular, displays a deep affection similar to that of our friend mentioned above.  This is a warm, inviting image, featuring a Diné woman holding one lamb and standing between two more.  Her surroundings—pleasantly symmetrical, more detailed than the artist’s norm, and heavier on the greens than one expects of a desert scene—are framed within a thin white line, which steps down over and zigzags between the two signatures.  Above the girl is a beautiful stylized depiction of a Diné deity, from which six sets of three bright yellow lines emerge. Every detail of this piece is impeccably composed, and Begay’s atypical color choices are vivid and exciting. Even the paper is unusual, with its earthy tan tone.  This painting, which dates to the 1970s, is a truly outstanding version of a scene that Begay painted many times.

Artist Signature - Harrison Begay (1917-2012) Haashké Ya Níyá-The Wandering BoyHarrison Begay (1917-2012) was a world-renowned Diné (Navajo) painter who is generally regarded as one of the most successful and influential early Native American painters.  Begay studied under Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s, and then attended colleges in North Carolina and Arizona. From 1942 to 1945, he served in the US Army Signal Corps.  In 1947, Begay returned to the Navajo reservation, where he enjoyed a long and productive career as a painter. He is known to have continued painting into his 90s. Begay passed away in 2012.


Condition: this painting of a Girl Holding Lamb is in excellent condition

Provenance: from the large collection of a New Mexico resident who purchased it in the 1970s while living in Gallup, NM

Relative Links: Diné - NavajoHarrison BegayDorothy DunnNative American Paintings

Close up view of the sun symbol in this painting.

Harrison Begay (1917-2012) Haashké yah Níyá - The Wandering Boy
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    15” x 12-¾”: image;
    18-⅞” x 16-¾”: framed
  • Item # C4158i
  • Price: $1,675.00

C4158i-paint.jpgC4158i-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.