Y is for Yei

Helbing Collection A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week, I will highlight an item or items from our Helbing Collection of Native American Arts and Crafts.

This week’s item is a Navajo Wall hanging featuring yei, the Navajo holy figures that the yeibichai portray in the dances and ceremonies. The square heads indicate they are female yei (males have round heads.) The figure wrapped around the yei is the rainbow yei.

Cleora wrote, “This all white wool, 33 by 31 inch wall hanging is decorated with woven Yeibichai dancers done in blue, maroon, yellow, brown, and orange wool. Two of these dancer figures are in the center of the piece. The third dancer forms the border with head and body on one side, and very elongated legs running at the base of the other dancers and up the other side. This is a Navajo wall hanging.”

We now understand that the wall hanging does not depict the dancers, but the holy figures themselves.

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