Jeff King (Haska-zilth-e-yah, 1865-1964) lived in the Pinedale Chapter Area of the Navajo Reservation.

It's not far from Gallup, and residents get their mail at Churchrock, just east of Gallup.


King was born when the Navajo people were imprisoned at Bosque Redondo, where they had been held for most of the Civil War to prevent the men from raiding Anglo and Hispanic settlements. He may have been born at Bosque Redondo, or if his family had escaped the imprisonment, he might have been born near Gallup.

There was a large military base east of Gallup called Fort Wingate. From 1891 to 1911, King served as a scout for the U.S. Army. He dedicated himself to becoming a Medicine Man when he left the service. During his life, he reportedly mastered three significant ceremonies.


Remember that these ceremonies are not found in books or any written form. They are passed from one Medicine Man to another orally. One Medicine Man also teaches the actual sand paintings to another. In some cases, these designs were drawn on memory cloths and used by the person performing the ceremony to ensure they were correctly drawn.

King learned the Blessing Way and the Enemy Way, two important rituals. The most important one was a ceremony that told the story of the Hero Twins, who traveled to the hogan of their father, the Sun, and were given the power to kill the Monsters that were destroying the Navajo people. This was when the Navajo came from the Third World to the Fourth World, where we are today.


You might believe that Shiprock is a large volcanic uplift south of the Colorado/New Mexico border near the town named for it. It is the "frozen in rock" image of one of the Monsters killed by the Hero Twins. The volcanic dyke running south from Shiprock is the blood of the Monster!

The ceremony, "Where the Two Came to Their Father," is performed for young Navajos going off to war to keep their souls healthy and protect them. It is still common for Navajo men and women in the armed services to engage a Medicine Man and have this protective Sing done for them. King performed the ceremony for hundreds of Navajo men who fought in WWII.


The Medicine Man passed away in 1964 and was the first Navajo buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

King made the acquaintance of Ethnologist Maud Oakes (1903-1990) while she lived on the reservation. He allowed her to record the protection ceremony and provided original drawings of the sand paintings used in the ceremony. Some people claimed that she drew the designs during the ceremony. In a two-day ceremony, none of the 18 paintings would have been on the floor of the hogan for long enough to capture the detail correctly. It is more likely that King, who wanted to preserve the ceremony accurately, provided her with detailed drawings.


Then, in 1942, Oakes involved mythologist Joseph Campbell, and between the three of them, they created a portfolio of the prints and a book that explained the meanings of the sand paintings through Maud and Campbell's eyes.

There were a set of 18 pochoir prints (each measuring 18" x 23"). Pochoir prints were the favorite of Matisse, Picasso, and most European print artists of that time.


According to Pochoirworld, "Each Pochoir is a unique piece of art. The differences between each edition are often hard to find due to the fine craftsmanship of the colourists. Compared to other reproduction techniques, the realism of the colors is the most striking mark of the pochoir. They seem much clearer than  a lithograph or a screen print because the paint is applied in a three-dimensional way rather than just being stuck on."

The book and prints were offered in a portfolio, occasionally available online for around $1500. The book was last reprinted in 1975, but instead of having loose prints, they were incorporated as pages in the book. You can sometimes find it on Amazon.


The reason for telling you all of this is that we received one of the original portfolios from a client who wanted to sell it a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the book was not with the prints, and one of the 18 prints was missing. After many discussions, we came up with the idea of providing an interesting group of quality pochoir prints that people could frame and enjoy individually by separating the ones we did have.

These 80-year-old images are peaceful and strong. To the uninitiated, they might appear to be examples of modern art! But most of all, they are a link to traditional Navajo beliefs. I hope you enjoy them!

See all Jeff King Pochoir Prints in the Gallery