Sahmie, Ida – “Male Yei” Tile
This is a very traditionally inspired tile by Ida Sahmie. It is “Male Yei”, which is a design often seen in 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. Here, Ida has painted it on a stone polished tile using natural clay slips and bee-weed (a plant) for the black. The Male Yei figure has detailed clothing even jewelry. Around the figure is a basket design. The face is etched and then painted with white clay. 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.