Navajo Weaving: Yei
Navajo Weaving: Yei This contemporary Navajo Yei weaving was handwoven with 100% wool on a traditional Navajo upright loom by Denis Long. It measures 4′ x 4′.
“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.
They have to have a sing done by a medicine man. That’s how they weave them.”
— Hele Kirk, Kinlichee, Arizona
A Guide to Navajo Rugs
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 health when called upon in a properly conducted ceremony.