Untitled Navajo Painting of Nightway Ceremony Dance by Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie

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Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    15-3/4" x 22-3/4” image;
    23” x 30” framed
  • Item # C4275B
  • Price: $1,250.00

This untitled painting by Diné artist Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie depicts a dance group during the final night of the Nightway ceremony.  We reached out to young Diné artist Myron Denetclaw for information about exactly what occurs during the ceremony. He provided the following description:  “When the nightway ceremony is nearly completed on the 9th night, Yeii dance groups from near or far would come to participate and heal the patient. As many as 25 to 30 yeii dance groups could go to the ceremonial site and participate. The dances would last until dawn. This closes the nightway ceremony. The chanting and dance help extract the illness the patient has. In return, they receive wellness and blessings from the deities.”

The painting features nine figures dancing in a loose circle.  Yeibichai dancers alternate with Diné women, creating a lively and colorful dance scene. Tsihnahjinnie’s work here is of his typically high quality.  His outlines are thin, precise and strong; his color palette is impressively varied; and his potentially challenging figure arrangement works very well.  His chosen colors are subdued but effective, save for the bright green used for the dancers’ mask and jewelry. This bold tone is used sparingly, adding even more energy to the exciting image.  This painting illustrates why Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie is regarded as one of the finest early Diné painters.

Signature - Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie, Navajo Nation ArtistThe painting is signed Tsinajinie in lower right. It is framed in a beautiful and unique wood frame, with rounded notches carved into the edges and repeating designs carved into the interior.  Two layers of matting in complementary colors complete the presentation.

Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie (1916 - 2000) was a Diné painter who was born near Chinle, Arizona. He attended elementary school at the Indian School at Fort Apache, but ran away and returned to the reservation. He then attended school in Santa Fe and became a student of Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School. He was an excellent student and was known to have stayed in the studio painting until forced to return to the dormitory. Following his graduation he went to work as an illustrator for the Indian Service.

Dorothy Dunn spoke highly of Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie.  She thought he displayed “incisive interpretation, spontaneity of brushwork, originality of color, vigor of draftsmanship and vitality of action and that he had no equals among the artists of the Santa Fe Indian School studio and perhaps few superiors among modern painters.”  She thought he might well be “one of America’s top-ranking painters. In the brief seasons when he felt freed to paint the things he knew so deeply, without troubled concern for doing otherwise, his work attained a trenchant beauty, unique in modern art.” Dunn 1963 

Tsihnahjinnie’s works are included in many prominent public and private collections, and are published in most of the major texts which relate to Native painting.  Tsihnahjinnie passed away in 2000.


Condition: this Untitled Navajo Painting of Nightway Ceremony Dance by Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie is in excellent condition

Provenance: private New Mexico collection

Reference: American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas by Dorothy Dunn

Relative LInks: NavajoApacheSanta FeDorothy DunnpaintingAndrew Van Tsihnahjinnie

Close up view of a section of this Navajo painting.


Andrew Van Tsihnahjinnie, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    15-3/4" x 22-3/4” image;
    23” x 30” framed
  • Item # C4275B
  • Price: $1,250.00

C4275B-paint.jpgC4275B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.