Sahmie, Ida – “Male & Female Yei with Humpback, Night Chant” Tile
This is one of the larger tiles we have had by Ida Sahmie. It is “Male & Female Yei with Humpback Yei Night Chant”. These are figures often depicted in Navajo sandpaintings and rugs. “Yei” (pronounced “yay”) is the Navajo name for the benevolent supernatural beings who bring their healing power to medicinal ceremonies still performed today. On this tile, there is a male and female Yei to the left. They are separated by corn stalks. On the right is the Humpback Yei, who is also called B’ganaskiddy in Navajo. This is an important figure in the Night Way ceremony and usually appears with the Ye’i Talking God and the Fringe Mouth Ye’i. Each of the figures is etched into the clay. They are then highlighted with bee-weed (black) and clay slips. To create a Night Chant scene Ida has very subtly applied the bee-weed to create different levels of darkness and the stars in the sky are etched into the clay. The entire piece is quite exceptional! 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.