Sand paintings originated for use in healing ceremonies and were destroyed at the end of the ritual. In the late 1940's or early 1950's, Navajo sand paintings began to be "permatized" for commercial sale. (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 these paintings. They are made by trickling colored sands through one's fingers onto the epoxy covered board.
This vibrant and beautiful sand painting was done on the usual piece of pressed wood. The various components of the painting are:
Upper Left: Turquoise set in silver, like a squash blossom necklace or belt buckle
Upper left: Two human figures at the edge of a mesa
Central: A Navajo pot, flanked by two black silhouettes of yucca plants, on desert sands
At the top: White clouds
This painting is signed on the upper left of the reverse " A Begay." The Begays are a multi-generational, well-known and prolific Navajo family. The work measures 13 1/2 inches square and is framed with one inch wide rough wood molding. It has a slightly rusty metal hanging ring on the back (see photograph #3). The condition is excellent and with its traditional and contemporary elements, 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 preferred name is Diné, which means 'Children of God." The word "Navajo" comes from a Spanish word meaning "stealer."