Sahmie, Ida – “Night Chant” Jar with Eight Figures (2010)
This is a classic jar by Ida Sahmie. It has the Night Chant Dance with eight male Yei-bi-chi dancers on the jar. Each of the figures is painted with bee-weed and clay slips. They are incised into the clay (the white areas) and note how the kilt on each figure is a different design. The background has a mountain scene and a fire “in the center’. The idea is to make it look as if they are dancing around the fire in the center. There is an etched moon and stars in the sky. It is a complex piece in design and striking in coloration. There is an amazing amount of work on her pieces and it is all done BEFORE the piece is fired! Check out as well the shadows at the bottom and how she even did the feathers. Ida said of this design:
“The night and day dancers do about the same dance. It takes me so much time to etch the designs. I etch each figure before the jar is fired. The skirt on each of the figures has a different design. After they are etched then I use the slips to create the colors. After all the painting is done, then I fire it outside.”
Ida is a daughter-in-law of Priscilla Nampeyo and 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 imagery on her pottery using these materials. It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Ida Sahmie, ’10”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.