Test Home

Yei Rug


Item Number: DR 644
Tribal Affiliation: Navajo
Artist: Unknown
Medium: Wool and vegetal dyes
Age: Circa 1960s
Dimensions: 66” X 34”  weft:  42  warp: 10



This is a beautiful Yei rug with seven female Yei carrying feathers. It is woven with hand spun wool and dyed with vegetal dyes of cream, gold, black and brown. There is no border surrounding the rug.

“Yei” (pronounced “yay”) is the Navajo name for a deity or a holy one, 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, and does not have any religious significance.

The Yeis are woven facing outward. They are usually depicted with long bodies and skirts and hold sacred plants or symbols. Most Yeis are depicted as female with square shaped heads, but less commonly the round headed males are woven. Yei figures in rugs may be bordered by a rainbow guardian on three sides. Traditionally it is considered sacrilegious to weave the eyes and mouths of the Yeis, so these features are often embroidered in after the rug is woven. There are cornstalks, feathers or arrows between the Yeis. These rugs may or may not have a border.

The portrayal of Navajo ceremonial art in rugs is generally attributed to Hosteen Klah, a Navajo medicine man and weaver born in 1867 and died in 1937. Hosteen Klah reproduced in rugs the sacred sandpainting images that are part of Navajo healing ceremonies. The weaving of Yei figures in Navajo rugs became prevalent after the popularity of Hosteen Klah’s sandpainting pictorials

The Yei weavings of the Lukachukai area, which is southwest of Shiprock, are usually of a larger size, less colorful, made with handspun wool.

Condition: Excellent- original condition. There is a fabric placket for hanging on the back; this rug has always been hung and never placed on the floor.
Provenance: Acquired from a private family collection in Texas

Additional information

Weight 42 oz