A Navajo sandpainting rug, 5ft 11in x 5ft 11in
Lot 3557
A Navajo sandpainting rug, 5ft 11in x 5ft 9in
Sold for US$ 27,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Property from the collection of Wendall N. Gates, Professor of Art, San Jose State University
A Navajo sandpainting rug
Mrs. Sam (Gladys) Manuelito, depicting the Nightway Chant, Holy People deities, and sacred plants surrounding a swirling logs axis, a Rainbow goddess encloses the scene from three sides.
size approximately 5ft 11in x 5ft 9in


  • Provenance:
    Purchased from G.C. Williamson at the Tahoe Trading Post, Lake Tahoe, CA in August of 1946, descended in the family

    Mrs. Sam (Gladys) Manuelito was the niece of the famous Navajo medicine man and weaver, Hosteen Klah. Klah taught Gladys and her sister, Irene, sandpainting weaving and Gladys went on to have a prolific career and continued to weave, according to most historians, until the early 1970’s. The Klah family’s influence on early sandpainting ceremonial depictions in woven form is legendary and Mrs. Sam rightly deserves the designation as one of the most seminal weavers of this genre; and certainly after Klah, the most well known.

    Briefly summarized, the Nightway myth involves a visionary hero, the youngest of several sons whose prophetic dreams are ridiculed by his family. He leaves alone on a hunting trip and is captured by Gods in the form of mountain sheep. They and other Gods lead him through a series of mystical adventures where he gains ceremonial knowledge. In the most interesting adventure, the hero floats down a river inside a hollowed-out log into an area of waterfalls and caves where the Gods teach him the ceremony of the “swirling logs” -- a part of the Nightway. He returns home to his chastened relatives and, hailed as a hero, teaches them the ceremony and then departs to live with the Gods.

    The swirling logs are symbolized by the blue and black cross in the center of the weaving. The square in the center of the cross is the lake (emergence place). The four sacred plants of the Navajo, corn, beans, squash and tobacco, radiate from the center. On the log arms are pairs of female and male Holy People, the female holding juniper sprigs, the male a white rattle and juniper sprig. They are surrounded by, in the east, Talking God (white), the head of the Gods; in the west Hogan God (black); on the north and south Humpback Gods (each carrying a sack of vegetables and fruits with symbols of rain, clouds and mist), the whole surrounded on three sides by an attenuated Rainbow Guardian.

    I certify this sandpainting tapestry to have been woven by Mrs. Sam Manuelito

    Tyrone D. Campbell
    Scottsdale, AZ 2008