The Navajo Nightway dance is beautifully evoked in this gem of a pot, by the noted potter, Ida Sahmie, who was born Navajo.
She married into the most iconic family of Hopi potters, the descendants of Nampeyo, and melds Navajo subjects with Hopi clays.
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. This jar is a splendid example of all those characteristics.
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-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, 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, even up to their feathers!
They suggest the contrast between the ruddy firelight and the night’s blackness. This piece is especially well-formed: the oval shape is tapered at top and bottom, both.
The slight neck, accented by a russet band, elongates the lovely oval even more.
In this special piece, a special world is contained in a beautiful form by this highly respected potter.
The artist signs her work with her name, and “Dine”, the Native word for Navajo.