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RARE Carving by Navajo Folk Artist Charlie Willeto

C4045N-carving.jpg

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Charlie Willeto (1897-1964)
  • Category: Other Items
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: wood, paint
  • Size: 24-3/4” height x 2” thick
  • Item # C4045N
  • Price: $9,500.00

Navajo medicine men spend a large part of their lives learning the ceremonials necessary for overcoming the effects of illness in a patient. Several sandpaintings and numerous chants are required in a single ceremony and the ceremony may last up to nine days. There was a time when Navajo medicine men were considered wealthy because of the remuneration they received from a ceremony. With the advent of government medical facilities throughout the reservations, the requirement for use of Navajo medicine men declined, as did their income.

It is believed that Charlie Willeto began carving wood figures as a means of trading them for provisions for his family. He found a receptive trader at Mauzy’s Trading Post near Bloomfield. NM. He is believed to have carved only 400 of the figures before his early death. Some were as small as a few inches and some as large as 5 feet or more. Some were flat and others round.

This wood figurine is one of the flat ones and appears to be a male. His arms are crossed across his chest.  He wears a shirt painted in red, black, and yellow and has a turquoise nugget necklace around his neck. Low on his body is a concho belt.  His face has a wonderful expression, with wide open eyes and a long nose. Two feathers stand up from the top of his head.

When Willeto first began carving these figurines, he used his wife’s dyes from her Navajo rugs, but they faded relatively fast, so he switched to commercial house paint. This figurine is painted with house paint.


Condition: The RARE Carving by Navajo Folk Artist Charlie Willeto is in original excellent condition.  

Provenance: from the estate of Santa Fe collector and dealer, Marti Struever.

Recommended Reading: Collective Willeto: The Visionary Carvings of a Navajo Artist by Begay, Hopps, Kogan, and Chapelle

Close up view of the face of this carving.

Charlie Willeto (1897-1964)
  • Category: Other Items
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: wood, paint
  • Size: 24-3/4” height x 2” thick
  • Item # C4045N
  • Price: $9,500.00

C4045N-carving.jpgC4045N-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.