Friday, June 28, 2013

Rare Large Navajo Pictorial Weaving Circa 1930's "Mother Earth, Father Sky" at Saks Galleries in Denver, Colorado

Navajo sandpaintings were created by the chanters, Medicine Men, to use in healing ceremonies and in requesting help from the gods for a bountiful harvest. The Navajo people, the DinĂ©, believed it was taboo to create holy images in a permanent form, thus the earliest religious depictions were sandpaintings. But in about 1917, Hosteen Klah, began weaving important spiritual images into rugs and opened the door for other weavers to follow. 

Klah's first sandpainting weaving was from the Nightway ceremony.  The current textile is a recreation of elements of the Nightway Chant, a 9 day ceremony. It depicts Mother Earth and Father Sky with arms crossed in the center. Mother Earth and Father Sky were the first creations of the Great Spirit. Their crossed hands signify the union of heaven and earth. Mother Earth has a brown circle in the center of the her belly to represent the opening where the DinĂ© originally entered into this world. The sacred four plants are growing from this emergence hole; corn, gray bean, yellow squash, and tobacco. These sacred colors, white, blue, yellow and black also indicate the four boundaries of the traditional Navajo nation.  

Both Mother Earth and Father Sky have a white and yellow line across their face. The white line above the brow symbolizes the dawning of the day and the yellow line across the chin, twilight. The crossing zig zag shapes across the chest of Father Sky are symbolic of the Milky Way. He also has two constellations on his hips. When Seven Sisters was visable in the night sky it was safe to perform the Nightway Ceremony.  The constellation was also used as a clock for planting. Within Father Sky are the gray face of the sun and white face of the moon. Each has a set of horns indicating spiritual strength. Their faces are banded with white dawn, black darkness, gray mists and yellow twilight. 

Above Mother Earth is a bat, the sacred messenger of the spirit of the night. It guards the painting at the opening of its border. Bats are an important guardian, symbolizing rebirth, as they live in womb-like caves emerging every evening reborn. Bats are also a symbol of communication to the Native Americans because they are highly social creatures. They have strong family ties, exhibit nurturing behavior, verbal communication and sensitivity to members of their group. Often the spirit of the bat was invoked when a special energy was needed. Also represented in this complex weaving are symbols for the Four Directions, fertility and swiftness

Messenger Bat
Mother Earth, Father Sky is in excellent condition and measures 66" x 74". Large size pictorial textiles  are quite rare and the imagery in this weaving is as powerful as we have seen.  

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this or any works available at Saks Galleries.

Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary of Living Artfully
3019 East 2nd Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80206
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