Fringe Mouth (Navajo Yei Mask)


Oil on Panel / 6 x 6 inches / ©John Farnsworth

If you would like to own this painting, just email your bid to:


I originally painted this mask in watercolor. I believe it was a 9 x12 inch piece, but it may have been 12 x 16. Today, as I was working on cleaning up and repairing my website,, I came across a small thumbnail of the watercolor and instantly wondered how it would be to paint it as a 6 x 6 oil? I had intended to paint another Kachina for today’s post, in anticipation of my upcoming 43rd Annual Kachina Show (See below).

But I just couldn’t get this one off my mind. And I’m glad I couldn’t, because it was a real delight to paint, and I’m very happy with the result. I just may have to look into some of my other watercolors with an eye to revisiting them in oil. Don’t touch that dial!

STILL WATER PELICAN Daily Photograph #1,664

I spotted this back-lit profile of a pelican on the still waters of  the harbor at Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, while on a shooting spree with Jim Cline Photo Tours a few years back. Jim is a knowledgeable and accommodating guide. I wholeheartedly recommend his tours. Check him out at Jim Cline Photo Tours. Jim knows the places and the people to make your tour a rewarding experience.

Still Water Penguin


¿Que tranquilo, no?

It’s time to get ready for THE KACHINAS ARE COMING. That’s the big 43rd Annual Kachina show Thea wil be putting on of my Kachina paintings the first of September at David Anthony Fine Arts, here in Taos. I hope to see you there!

David Anthony Fine Art, 132 Kit Carson, Taos, New Mexico, September 01 to October 05, 2012. Reception September 1, 5 t0 7pm

See the August/September issue of the SANTA FEAN magazine, page 90 for a write-up on the show.

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8 thoughts on “FRINGE MOUTH (NAVAJO YEI MASK) Daily Painting #694

  1. John, this is exquisite! I love everything about it: the choice of colors, incl. the ones in the background, the facial expression. I’m glad too that you couldn’t get your mind off this one!

  2. I would like to know the story of the fringe mouth. What event was this mask worn for? Your paintings are more than just painting a picture. To me they bring a lot of history to light that I know nothing about.

    1. Hi Doris, Here’s some information about the Fringe Mouth Yei from :
      “The Night Way, or Ye’i bichai, is a lengthy, eight day curative ritual. The name combines Ye’i with bi, the word for “his” and tchai or tsai meaning “maternal grandfather”. The meaning is therefore “grandfather of the terrible, but benevolent, ones”, or, more succinctly “grandfather of the deities”. This is another name for Talking Ye’i, who is believed to lead the other Ye’i to the aid of a suffering mortal. This way is commonly called the Night Chant because one of its major components, the Dance of the Masked Gods, is held at night.
      The Night Way consists of four days of cleansing and inviting the deities, four days during which the deities arrive, and a final night when the cure takes place. Ritual cleansing uses a sweat lodge for sweating and herbal brew to induce vomiting. There are various food taboos both during and for sometime after the ceremony.”

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