Navajo Nation Hand Woven Wool Textile with a Single Yei Figure [SOLD]


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Weaver Unknown

In the early 20th century, trading posts came into prominence on the Navajo Nation. The traders at individual posts promoted certain textile styles and patterns which they encouraged the weavers in their area to weave. Trader Will Evans at the Shiprock Trading Company fostered and marketed the pictorial designs which included Yei. Although Yei are religious beings from Navajo ceremonies, the weavings themselves have no religious significance. These rugs require a high degree of technical skill to weave and only the very best weavers could accomplish the task of creating a pictorial Yei weaving.

This amazing single figure Yei dates from the early part of the 20th Century. It is woven of homespun and hand dyed yarns. The complex border consists of multiple bands of black, red and white with a woven step design. The commanding single figure is surrounded by lightning designs and feathers.  He holds an orange rattle in one hand and perhaps a pine bough in the other. He has a red necklace around his neck and a concha belt around the waist. The unknown weaver of this textile was most certainly a very skilled artist. This century old piece is in excellent condition, with no apparent flaws or repairs.

A Yei (pronounced “yay”) is a spirit being of the Navajo (Diné) people. Yei are summoned by medicine men during Navajo healing ceremonies. The medicine man will create a dry painting to recreate specific stories which, along with songs, aid the patient in the healing process, to bring him or her back to harmony. The paintings are intricate, and for the ceremony to be successful, everything must be executed precisely. It can take years to learn the proper songs and the corresponding paintings that ensure harmony for the patient. The correct depiction of the Yei are essential components of the ceremony.

Provenance: From a collector in Colorado

Condition: This Navajo Nation Hand Woven Wool Textile with a Single Yei Figure is in excellent condition, with no apparent damage.

Recommended Reading:

- One Hundred Years of Navajo Rugs by Marian Rodee

- Navajo Weaving Tradition: 1650 to the Present by Alice Kaufman

Relative Links: Navajo Nation, Native American Paintings,  Navajo Textiles and Blankets

Close up view of this Navajo textile.