Sahmie, Ida – “Four Sacred Frogs & Four Sacred Plants” Tile

4"w x 4"

$ 175.00

This is a very traditionally inspired tile by Ida Sahmie.  It is “The Four Water Creatures”, which is a design often seen in sandpaintings and Navajo weavings.  Here, Ida has painted it on a stone polished tile using natural clay slips and bee-weed (a plant) for the black.  The four sacred plants are corn, beans, squash, and tobacco.  There are fully painted and polished designs.  The four sacred frogs are painted with four different colors of clay and separate the four plants. The tile was traditionally fired and it is signed on the back, “Ida Sahmie”.  She is a daughter-in-law of Priscilla Nampeyo and Ida continues to make beautifully formed pottery with wonderfully complex designs.  She has won numerous awards for her pottery at events such as Santa Fe Indian Market.  She is the only Navajo potter creating this unique style of ethnographic pottery.   The story of the Four Sacred Plants and the Dine people is as follows:

“Four Sacred Plants are assigned to the cardinal points, and amongst the Navajos Maize is the plant of the North, Beans of the east. This means that both are male and as both are grown for edible seeds, recognition of the physiological function of the male was probably involved in the selection. This is entirely possible since the convention could have been established only very late, after settlement in America. Squash, for the Navajos, is the plant of the South, which is fitting since its fruit is called “eight-sided” and the eight-sided earth (an alternative to the square earth, taking account of the diagonal directions) is female. Also the stalk is angled in sections, a feature deliberately exaggerated when the plant is depicted in sand paintings, and crooked things are female. Tobacco, which the Navajos put on the west, is female because it is used to make smoke which is blown out with the breath, and that is female. Below the Plants are white roots, the significance being that these plants still have their roots in the lower world.”