Yei Figure Mixed Media Painting by Tony Abeyta

C4773-paint.jpg

+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend


Tony Abeyta, Diné Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Mixed Media
  • Size:
    25 ½” x 25” image;
    37” x 36 ½” framed
  • Item # C4773
  • Price: $6500

Yei Figures in Navajo Mythology:

From Sacred Sand Paintings to Tony Abeyta’s Artistic Tribute

Known in Navajo mythology as intermediaries between the Great Spirit and tribal members, the Yei figures play an important role in the spiritual beliefs of the Diné people. They are believed to have power over elements such as the weather, the seasons, and night and day.

Before the 20th century, creation of Yei figures in anything but ceremonial sand paintings was highly forbidden. Since these figures are destroyed before sunset during a healing ceremony, it was not allowed that they be created in permanent form especially in an item to be sold to non-Indians. It was strongly believed that serious consequences would befall anyone who depicted these figures in any other format. Gradually, this superstition was overcome. In the 1990's and early 2000's, highly respected Diné artist Tony Abeyta began a series on deities in which he honored these Yei figures as well as Katsinas of the Hopi, and other Divine beings to the Navajo.

Dated 1996, this particular mixed media image features a male Yei figure with incredible attention to detail. The reason it is known to be a male figure is that traditionally the female Yei figures had square heads while the males have been portrayed with round heads. The figure here has a round, tan head, with thin square eyes and a small round mouth. Over the face is a triangular reflection coming from the center of the forehead. This figure is adorned with a highly elaborate feather headdress.

Abeyta used a varied and intricate color scheme here, with an extremely expansive palette complete with a brilliant purple surrounding the figure along the outside of the work. On the headdress numerous colors can be seen, including shades of blue, red, orange, yellow, green, and more.

Begun in the style of a monotype, using inks applied to a smooth, non-absorbent surface, the artist  then manipulated the image in a variety of paints and other materials to create the final image, thereby transferring the work from an original print to an original mixed media painting.

Aritst signature of Tony Abeyta, Diné of the Navajo Nation Painter

Diné artist Tony Abeyta (b. 1965) is one of the most prominent contemporary Native American painters. Abeyta was educated at Santa Fe's Institute of American Indian Arts, the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and overseas in Italy and Southern France. His father was Diné painter Narciso Platero Abeyta (1918-1998) Ha So De. Abeyta's works are included in major museums around the world, and he has received many notable awards and accolades for his work. Abeyta lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Berkeley, California.


Condition: very good condition

Provenance: this Yei Figure Mixed Media Painting by Tony Abeyta is from a private collection

Recommended Reading: 100 Artists of the Southwest by Douglas Bullis

TAGS: Navajo NationNative American Fine ArtNarciso Platero AbeytaTony AbeytaElizabeth Abeyta

Close-up view of a section of this painting.

Tony Abeyta, Diné Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: Mixed Media
  • Size:
    25 ½” x 25” image;
    37” x 36 ½” framed
  • Item # C4773
  • Price: $6500

C4773-paint.jpgC4773-large2.jpg Click on image to view larger.