Marie Carroll, Navajo Handwoven Rug, Yei', Sand Painting Figures, 27" x 38"
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|Rug Dye Type||Aniline Dye (commercial wool)|
|Rug Navajo Pattern||Yei|
|Rug Time Period||Modern (Post 1950)|
It is generally acknowledged that the earliest commercial Yei rugs appeared around the turn of the century near Farmington, NM. Englishman Dick Simpson, founder of the Gallegos Canyon Trading Post in 1896, was the first to showcase a large, single figure Yei rug. In fact, it was his Navajo wife Ya-na-pah and her older sister Gle-nup-pah, who are credited with weaving some of the finest early Yei rugs. Despite the Navajo prohibition of putting sacred figures into a permanent medium (sandpaintings are always destroyed after a healing ceremony), the commercial success of these Gallegos “blankets” may have encouraged other weavers to imitate them. “Blankets with a central figure…probably began to appear as early as 1910.” (Valette:1997)In the early 1900’s, respected medicine man and weaver, Hosteen Klah, with the support of Boston socialite, Mary Wheelwright, and trading post owner, Franc Newcomb, broke through all boundaries by weaving both Yei and sacred sandpainting designs. In 1911 Klah is said to have woven “…a set of Yeibichai dancers, which he sold to Mr. Ed Davies for several sheep.” (Newcomb:1964) In a photograph of the Newcomb Trading Post booth at the 1914 Shiprock Fair, a large Yei rug hangs alongside a Whirling Log sandpainting textile. (Newcomb:1966) Both were probably woven by Klah.