Navajo Pictorial Rug with Single Yei Figure


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Weaver Unknown

This Navajo textile, or floor rug, features a single figure Yei as the principal figure. The Yei are the Holy People of the Diné of the Navajo Nation. There was a time when it was forbidden to sketch or reproduce in any form the sacred Yei. These powerful holy people were to be treated with caution. Only a medicine man was allowed to deal with such. As time passed, such strictures eased and the more liberal leaders of the Diné were convinced to allow ceremonial figures and events to be recorded for the purpose of saving them for the future.

"But the reproduction of the designs in textiles was only occasionally ventured, and each departures from tradition were very few and far between, undertaken with considerable trepidation. However, when none of the weavers suffered the feared consequences of blindness, illness, even death, as had been widely warned, some of the braver weavers increasingly used Yei designs in their work. One of the earliest to take this radical step was Hosteen Klah, undoubtedly the best known and most influential; his work, starting about 1919, left an indelible mark. Because he was a medicine man, he was believed to be able to ward off any evil effects. Through his own weaving and the work of his two nieces, Hosteen Klah paved the way for the art as we know it today." [Dockstader, 1987:24]

In addition to the central Yei figure, the textile has a two-color border, straight at the rug's ends and zigzagging along the sides. Attached to the interior zigzag are eagle feathers, and to the outer zigzag are white crosses. The diamond stacked elements are like water bugs often seen on storm pattern textiles.

Condition: very good condition

Provenance: this Navajo Pictorial Rug with Single Yei Figure is from the collection of a client of the gallery

Reference: Dockstader, Frederick J. The Song of the Loom - New Traditions in Navajo Weaving. Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1987

TAGS: textilesNavajo Nation

Close-up view of a section of this rug.

Weaver Unknown
C4730-33-rug.jpgC4730-33-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.