Object photography

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Object description

  • Bruce Hathale (Diné (Navajo))
  • Big Gods on Whirling Logs, Big Godway. Guardian of Two Sunflower Plants., early 1990s
  • Acrylic on linen
  • New Mexico, United States
  • image H: 27 in, W: 21 5/8 in (image H: 68.6 cm)
  • Gift from James and Margie Krebs Collection of Native American Art, 2001
  • E301826
  • Used to train apprentice Navajo medicine men in ceremonial sandpainting
  • Sometimes called a "memory painting"

True sandpaintings-ephemeral images made of colored sand-depict sacred images for restorative Navajo ceremonies. Reproductions like this one are often created for sale, with design changes that render them secular and harmless. Sandpaintings (including reproductions) preserve private ritual knowledge between different generations, and between teacher and protégé.


This painting depicts two stylized frontal facing figures. The almost identical figures are painted in black. Their heads have a curved top with square sides and bottom. Short arms extend at each side, ending in white, open hands. Their bodies are long. A horizontal band of blue and red cut through the end of their bodies, with two triangular shaped feet. Each figure wears and blue and red multi-strand necklace, long blue and red earrings, and a criss-crossing blue and red decoration across the upper chest. Each head is outlined in red. The figure at the right has two white feathers extending upward from the top of the head, as well as a decorative triangle of blue, black, and red. The left figure has a row of five white feathers with black tips ringing his head. Both figures hold a bunch of yellow flowers in each hand. The flowers appear to be attached to long poles with black, red, and white decorated ends.

Exhibition History

  • Power and Beauty: A New Native American Art Gallery at the Peabody Essex Museum, Peabody Essex Museum; 2003 through 2005


Peabody Essex Museum