Begay, Jr., Harrison – 9″ Tall Jar with Yei, Sun and Hand Designs
Harrison Begay, Jr. has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery. This jar is fully carved and has a high shoulder and a short neck. The jar has a design just above the shoulder that represents the sun. On the sides, there are two sections with Navajo Yei figures. The Yei figures are often seen in Navajo sandpaintings and weavings. Each side has a Male Yei and a Female Yei. Separating them are hands with prayer feathers carved into the negative space. Harrison says the hands in these pieces are the “hands of the creator”. The jar is a contrast of polished and matte surface. Harrison alternates to accentuate his imagery. Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery. However, it is not just the size or design, but the coloration is striking. Harrison’s use of the brown firing gives the jar a similarity in color to traditional Navajo pottery that is covered in pinon pitch. This jar has a deep, almost chocolate brown coloration. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Harrison ’20”.
Harrison says of his pieces with the Yei figures:
There is the Yei or the holy man, and the hand of the Creator. The holy men are surrounded by the sun in the midst of the creation. The reddish-brown color I learned how to fire from Forest Naranjo and Jody Naranjo. I fell in love with it. I love the color. I’m not sure if in the past anyone had been doing carving on reddish-brown fired pieces before I started. I don’t think I started it, but I fell in love with the color and how it looks on the polished and matte surfaces. I like to keep with the traditional shapes. I really enjoy the results of polish and the matte areas contrasting against one another.” Harrison Begay, Spoken Through Clay