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Vintage Navajo Weavings, ‘The Yeibichai’

“Yei” (pronounced “yay”) a Navajo name.


Yeibichai are supernatural beings who created the Navajo people and taught them how to live in harmony with the universe.
One of the most popular regional styles of Navajo weavings have been the combinations depictions of theYei, Yeibichai.



The Yeibichai dancers usually depict human impersonators dressed as Yei’s who are participating in a nine-day healing or blessing ceremony. This usually takes place after the first frost in the fall. The figures in these rugs usually face sideways to show movement. They are essentially loaning their bodies to the spirit of Yei’s. During a ceremony there is a team of fourteen dancers which are made of six male dancers, six female dancers, and the Water Sprinkler Dance which is the God of Precipitated Waters. In the Yeibichai Dance the Male Yei’s have round heads and Female Yei’s have square heads and on the final night of the ceremony dancers appear in public in what is referred to as the Yeibichai Dance. The celebration ends with the chanting of the Bluebird Song which celebrates the happiness and peace symbolized by the blue bird.




Yei’s are known as the the “Holy People”. Yeibichai’s are believed to restore and heal when called upon in a conducted ceremony.

Yeibichai ere first portrayed in traditional sand painting 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. 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. These intriguing rugs are strongly representative of the Navajo culture.