It doesn’t take any expertise to realize that Navajo rugs are beautiful works of art. But it can give you a greater sense of appreciation when you realize the history and mythology behind specific weavings. To that end, this week we want to focus on this skillfully made Yeibichai dancers Navajo rug and the story woven into its cloth.
Traditional Yeibichai Dancers Weaving
Navajo Dancers dress up as Yei (Navajo Gods) during the Night Chant Ceremony, a nine-day-long ceremony only performed in the cold time of the year, when snakes are hibernating. The figures in the weaving can be identified by their unique features:
- Talking God leads on the left side of the weaving. He can be identified by the four eagle feathers on top of his white mask. He also wears a spruce ruff around his neck, a white deerskin sash knotted over his left shoulder, and a kit fox pelt hanging down his back. Talking God can speak to the Navajo.
- Six male yeibichai dancers follow Talking God. They each wear a blue mask with two eagle feathers above the mask. If you could see the back of the mask, it would be white. They also wear a spruce ruff around their necks, a kit fox pelt hanging down, and a short kilt with a concho belt. They wear red garters to hold up their leggings and moccasins on their feet.
- Bringing up the rear is Water Sprinkler, the Navajo God of Precipitated Waters. He is the bringer of rain and the water carrier of the gods. He often plays the role of the clown giving comic relief as he performs his dance moves. Water Sprinkler can be identified by the three eagle feathers above his blue mask. He also carries a kit fox pelt in his hand and wears a concho belt around his waist and moccasins.
Not shown on this weaving are the six female dancers who would traditionally follow the males. They would be depicted with square blue masks only covering the front portion of their faces and spruce ruffs like the men. They usually carry spruce or feathers and wear traditional dress with a red sash.
Now you’ll recognize the next Yeibichai dancers Navajo rug that you see! And you’ll be able to appreciate the meaning behind the intricate weaving and vibrant colors.
Please contact Charley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this rug or any others in the collection.