Contemporary Navajo Weaving: Yei, Master Weaver Bessie Yazzie, 2’6″ x 5’8″


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Navajo Yei Weaving

This Navajo Yei is handwoven by Master Weaver Bessie Yazzie of the famed Yazzie family. The Navajo Yei measures 2’6″ x 5’8″.


“Yei” (pronounced “yay”) is the Navajo name for the benevolent supernatural beings who bring their healing power to medicinal ceremonies still performed today. In fact, they were first portrayed in traditional sandpainting designs created for these ceremonies, but the modern Yei rug is more of a pictorial composition, showing a row of the front- facing stylized stick figures. Between the Yeis cornstalks, feathers and arrows may appear, and a Rainbow Guardian often surrounds and protects the figures on three sides, indicating the sandpainting roots of this particular style.

Some weavers of Yeis have a ceremony performed to show respect and keep harmony in their lives. In color, anything goes in the weaving of a Yei rug. A dozen or more hues may be used.

These intriguing rugs are strongly representative of the Navajo culture. Navajo ceremonialism centers on a desire for healing: not only physical health, but also mental, emotional, spiritual, and even material well-being. The “Holy People” portrayed in the Yei rugs are believed to restore healh when called upon in a properly conducted ceremony.