Not only impressive, lovely, and extremely well-carved, this figure is really unusual.
It was created by a quite accomplished Navajo carver; that is unusual, and the subject matter is rare in a carving.
Not really a kachina, which would have to be a Hopi or Zuni manifestation of a spirit, this is a beautifully detailed carving of a female Navajo ceremonial dancer.
The blue-faced Yebe’cheis dance during the Nightway ceremony, one of the most sacred and powerful, that takes place over nine nights, in winter.
It is meant to be curative, that is, to restore harmony, as is the Navajo ideal.
The ceremony often is produced when someone returns from war, or a prolonged stay off the Navajo lands.
An equal number of male and female dancers, are led by the white-faced Yebe’chei, the Talking God.
On the last night, they dance until dawn, and sing the Bluebird song: this chant celebrates the happiness
and peace that the bluebird symbolizes.
This powerfully tranquil and handsome carving honors that chant, and that ceremony.
Wrapped in a gracefully folded blanket, the figure wears a finely detailed and carved squash blossom necklace, turquoise and shell heishi earrings, with a little eagle feather on her head.
The toe of one moccasin peeps out from her long blanket, while beautifully incised and painted, decorative bluebirds flit over the sides.
Her face is painted in the blue of the birds, with a cornstalk rising up the middle, and vertical stripes below.
The cornstalk is the symbol of health, happiness and prosperity; the stripes suggest rainfall, which is needed to promote crops in the high desert.
Every element, even her hair, is carved, by hand.
The repeated use of teal blue paint enlivens the palette, and integrates the design.
This is truly very uncommon, and uncommonly striking.