The Navajo Nightway dance is beautifully evoked in this gem of a pot, by the noted potter, Ida Sahmie.
She was born Navajo, and married into the most iconic family of Hopi potters, the descendants of Nampeyo.
Ida has been a top award-winner since she began exhibiting her work.
She is noted for finely formed thin-walled pots, meticulously painted in natural colors, often depicting Navajo subjects. This jar is a splendid example of her skill and artistry.
The celebrated Nightway ceremony culminates in the impressive Blue-Faced Yebechei dance. The artist has wonderfully captured that special atmosphere: cold winter’s night.
Stars sprinkle the inky sky, a roaring bonfire illuminates the darkness and warms spectators and dancers alike.
Insistent drumbeats and chanting accompany the rhythmic shuffling of the dancers. All that is contained in this design.
The dark brown background suggests the enveloping darkness, illuminated in the glow of the fire, under the star-studded sky.
Carefully detailed dancers circle the fire – actually there are two, one on each side, here – with the leader keeping slightly apart.
The surrounding cliffs and mesas are barely visible, as suggested by the delicate outlines.
Note the dark shadows cast by each dancer, and even their feathers! They suggest the contrast between the ruddy firelight and the night’s blackness.
This mysterious, spiritual event is contained in a nicely sized piece by this highly respected potter.