Navajo Yeibichai weavings have been made since the early part of the 1900’s. They depict dancers in a healing or blessing ceremony that is performed after the first frost in the fall. The Yeibichai dancers represent the Yeis, Navajo deities, and are an essential part of the ceremony, which also includes a Navajo medicine man creating sand paintings.
Weavings depicting the Yei figures first appeared in the Shiprock area of the Navajo reservation. They were encouraged by traders in the area and became a traditional Navajo weaving pattern. The Yeibichai weavings were a natural evolution of the Yei patterns.
Generally, these weavings show a line of dancers, turned
sideways, often with a medicine man and patient included. There are as many
different weaving interpretations of the Yeibichai dance as there are
One of my favorite and most unique weavers of this style is Elizabeth Bitsue. Today, we are featuring a weaving made by her in the 1960’s It shows four dancers, one set above the other dancing in different directions. In the ceremony, the dancers move in a line toward the patient who is sitting in front of a hogan (a traditional eight-sided Navajo dwelling) and then turn and dance the opposite direction. So, my take is that this weaving depicts a part of the dance line, one set moving toward the patient and one set dancing away.
It is a powerful weaving made with hand spun wool and woven in a manner that would suggest it was intended for use on the floor, although it never was used as a rug. Note the differences in the skirts. In one hand they carry a rattle and in the other an evergreen branch. The 60’s. masks are made of leather and fox tails hang from the rear of their waists.I love how the border, with geometric designs, frames the dancers.
The weaving came to us from the collection of Harold Tregent who ran the Glen Comfort Store in the Big Thompson Canyon just outside of Estes Park. Harold had an eye for quality and this piece is a fine example of his taste.
The weaving measures 61 1/2” x 36” and is offered at $3000.00.