Over the years, I’ve had plenty of people send me pictures of rock art that they believe to be of Native American origin, but this is a first time that a reader of the blog has sent me some pictures of Native American art. In this case it’s a pair of Navajo Sand Paintings, with the hope that someone can help us identify them or provide more information.
Let’s take a look at the first one, a full view on the left, and a detail (in order to better appreciate the surface texture) on the right. Marsha, the person who sent these pictures to me, explains: “About 20 years ago I had to clean out a storage building. The art was in the building with lots of arrow heads. Some numbered on the back. I never cared about them until I started doing ancestry.”
Marsha also sent photos of the back side, and this one has the following inscription, hand-written in what appears to be ball point ink: “First Man – taken from Navajo Creation Story. Chant brings long life. Navajo, A. Leappe.” At least this is what it appears to me … what do you think? Is that signature “A. Leappe,” or something else? A search for “A. Leappe” doesn’t turn up anything related to a Navajo artist, and in fact, it seems “Leappe” is an Irish name? Can anyone provide some insight on this? If so, please let us know in the comments section below. Scroll down for another sand painting and more story …
Here’s a second Navajo sand painting image sent to me by Marsha:
This one also has an inscription on the back – this one is a little harder to read, but what I make of it is this: “Sun & Eagle of Yei” and “This is a Navajo Ceremonial sand painting design. This is all made of natural color sand” with a signature that appears to be “T. Clah.” A search for “Sun and Eagle of Yei” does turn up a result, with a similar sand painting motif by an artist named Hardy Quade, and while there are a lot of similarities, it’s hard to know whether this is a common motif or something specific to that artist. It’s also hard to say whether my interpretation of that signature is accurate (“T. Clah”) or whether it’s “T. Clark” or something else. If anyone has any insight on this 2nd piece, please share in the comments section below.