2010-01 Tile With Two Navajo Ye’ii Bicheii Beings

Object ID:
2010-01

Artist:
Julian Koopee

Dimensions:
5.5” h X 4.25” w

Ye’ii Bicheii deities are known as “Grandfather of the Gods” or “Talking Gods” and appear during the last night of the Navajo winter ceremony. Although unsigned, the tile was made by Julian (“Mimps”), the brother of Jake Koopee. Born on 11/26/77, Julian has been making pottery for only about 1.5 years. The polychromatic drawings of the Ye’ii Bicheii are rigid and within a simple boxed border, giving the overall design a cartoon-like feeling. It is unusual for a Hopi potter to depict Navajo deities, though Navajo/Hopi potter Ida Sahmie often paints Yeis on her pots.

Julian lives in Phoenix and generally makes and fires his pots when visiting Jake. The tile is unsigned because it was intended to be thrown to the crowd by a woman participant at a basket dance (O’waqolt) on 11/21/10. The basket dance marks the end of the harvest season. As a gift representing the bounty brought by the katchinas, it would not be proper to indicate a human maker.

Purchase History:
Like 2010-02, this tile was being heated in the oven of Jake’s home in Walpi when David Alexander and I visited on 11/19/09. It was fired later that day. Although the check I left for the two tiles was cashed later that month, the tiles were not received. I wrote Jake a letter asking if they had been sent; he called Houston on 1/14/10 apologizing for the delay and explaining that he and his brother each thought the other had mailed the tiles when they actually had been lost in Jake’s home.