Navajo Sand Painting by R.M. Lee

Item number: 5005

Sand paintings originated for use in healing ceremonies; they were destroyed at the end of the ritual. Navajo sand paintings began to be "permatized" and sold commercially, made with a technique dating to the 1930s when a pair of white sign painters, E. George de Ville and his wife Mae Allendale, introduced the practice in Gallup, New Mexico. (Authentic Navajo sand paintings made for ceremonial purposes are never sold and seldom ever seen by outsiders.) After particle board was invented during World War II, it became the typical surface used for the commercially sold paintings, which are created by trickling colored sands through the fingers onto the epoxy covered board.

This large and intricately detailed sand painting was created by R.M. Lee of New Mexico, a member of a prominent Navajo family whose members include potters, artists and designers/makers of jewelry. The design uses the radial format with the Four Yei Dancers, representing the four spirit deities, whirling around the four arms that represent the Four Sacred Mountains of their traditional homeland. The very center represents the opening in the earth where the original emergence of the people from underground occurred.

This artwork's colors are still strong; the turquoise, brown, yellow and sand shades echo the desert, unlike the pastels of the 1980's. It measures 13 1/2 inches square and is securely framed with a one inch wide wood molding in a warm brown color. It weighs 1 3/4 pounds and is in excellent condition, with a hanging wire already attached. Handwritten in ink on the back is "The Four Yei Dancers {signed} RM Lee." With its contemporary art look, this sand painting will enhance any decor from modern to Southwest.

Note: Although we have used Navajo as the common name of this Native American nation, their self-proclaimed name is Diné, which means 'The People' in the Navajo language. The word "Navajo" comes from a Spanish word meaning "stealer."


PYH 5005