Monday, August 11, 2014

Chase These Blues Away: Yei Rugs

From the Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Inc. website:

Yei pattern rugs feature images of the Holy People drawn from ceremonial sand paintings but do not recreate an entire painting. The closely related Yeibechai rugs show Navajo dancers in the act of portraying Yeis in ceremonies. 

Typically, the Yeis are highly stylized figures with elongated bodies, short straight legs, and heads facing the viewer. Yebechais have somewhat more human proportions, usually face sideways, and often have legs bent in a dancing motion. The earliest Yei rugs usually included one or two large Yei figures oriented vertically, e. g. parallel with the warp. In some cases, small Yei images were included in rugs with geometric patterns or other pictorial elements

Though quite rare, these early types were made over a period of nearly four decades, falling out of favor by the 1930s

In the 1910s, a very small number of weavers made single figure type rugs which portrayed not the Navajo Yei, but rather Hopi Katsina figures with characteristic tableta headdresses.

The more common types of Yei and Yeibechai rugs feature multiple figures oriented parallel with the weft threads so that the rug appears wider than long when the figures are upright. 

Two distinct styles emerged in the 1920s. Those made in the area of Shiprock, New Mexico tend to have light colored backgrounds with no border, and often use brightly colored commercial yarns. Yeis and Yeibechais made in the central part of the reservation, in northeastern Arizona, tend to have dark backgrounds with simple borders. They are more likely to incorporate natural wool colors and more subdued chemical shades

Yeis continue to be very popular with collectors and are now being made in nearly all parts of the reservation.

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