J Stanley

Path to Sa’áh Naagháí Bik'eh Hózhóó

J Stanley
This artist is a member of SWAIA.org South Western Association for Indian Arts
Sa’áh Naagháí Bik'eh Hózhóó in translation to English means walk in beauty. However, one cannot walk in beauty without balance and harmony. Navajos view balance as everyone embodying both half female and male mindset. A form of warrior mentality but also a female touch.

In this painting, Chief Manuelito sits in front of a traditional chiefs blanket. Manuelito was a war leader that signed a treaty the encompassed the young generation to get an education, to grow and develop. The cornstalk represents growing and developing and good blessings. Corn fields are usually worked on by both females and males.

The cornstalk when ready produces corn pollen, used in ceremonies as offering to the holy people when praying. Usually that is captured before the sun rises in a Navajo basket, depicted at the top of the painting which also has the holy people woven into it, in which the pollen is shown as dispersing into the sky and onto the stars, where our holy people reside. They become the stars that watch over us.

Also, surrounding the cornstalk are hummingbirds, sacred bird. They are the only bird to fly in any direction. They help the Navajo people by being messengers and being able to carry herbs to heal people.

Next to the hummingbirds and what fades into the basket is a sash belt, woven by sheep wool, very tightly. A sash belt is most often worn by females as it holds them up but is also signifies strength. During child birth the mother grabs onto the sash belt to hold her up. It is also used to heal the woman's body after she has given birth.

The sash belt is usually kept safe in a home maintained by a matriarch. In the painting there is a dwelling, a hogan that represents where the umbilical cord is buried. The family usually keep the fire going to let those that are lost find their way home. The 'smoke' coming from the chimney in the painting represents that the fire is lit and the smoke signal is sent to those that need it. This home resides within the 4 sacred mountains (depicted above the hogan) on the Navajo reservation.

The Navajo Nation reservation has 50 arrowheads pointed outwards to protect it from outsiders. The reservation representation depicts the original land (gold paint) that was stated with in the Treaty of 1968. The same treaty that Chief Manuelito signed. The sliver part of the reservation is what the current land the Navajo Nation now resides on.

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