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 all those characteristics, especially the exceptionally beautiful shape.
The celebrated Nightway ceremony culminates in the impressive Blue-Faced Yebechei dance.
The artist has wonderfully captured that special atmosphere: cold winter’s night; star-sprinkled, inky sky, a roaring bonfire illuminating the darkness and warming spectators and dancers alike.
Insistent drumbeats and chanting accompany the rhythmic shuffling of the dancers. All that is contained in this jar.
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 fires, here, one on each side.
The surrounding cliffs and mesas are barely visible, as suggested by the delicate outlines.
At the top, around the neck of the jar, there are traditional rain signs, a good luck symbol.
Note the dark shadows cast by each dancer, even up to their feathers! They suggest the contrast between the ruddy firelight and the night’s blackness.
This special world is portrayed here in an especially well-formed piece by this highly respected potter.