Antique Navajo Weaving: Yei Pictorial – 1940s




The mural above the fireplace in the Colorado Lounge, first seen when Jack’s throwing the tennis ball at it, but many times later.


It’s a composite of several design elements from Navajo weavings. Though Zapotec weavings are virtually identical.


The Sacred Blue corn plants represent the harvest, and the square headed figures are women—though I’m not sure if these figures would count, because they’ve got slight indents at the top, breaking up the rectangularity. Almost looks like flower pots.

The figure encasing the other figures is the Rainbow Yei, considered an aspect of the Water Sprinkler (a benign trickster spirit), and rainbows are a symbol of all things good and happy to the Navajo.

This brings to mind all the rainbows in Danny’s room in Boulder—but it’s odd that Danny only sees this mural after 237 (it’s blocked out during his trike ride), and that the person most often seen in conjunction with the mural is Jack.

The reason the Rainbow Yei doesn’t loop around the “east” side of the blanket is because the Navajo believe that evil cannot approach from the east.

Times that a character enters not from the east:

  • The Abbey Road Tour: enters the west side
  • Creeper Jack sneaking: enters from the west

Apparently this design also didn’t used to be done for the purposes of weaving, but with coloured sand by Navajo Medicine Men, performing a healing ceremony. Afterwards, the sands would be collected and scattered in the four sacred directions.

There’s a lot of elements I still need to decipher, like the seeming flower pots on their heads, and the seeming sheaves hanging off their elbows, and the colours of their specific garbs (I imagine the red and blue characters in the middle have something to do with the red and blue scenes Wendy faces during the Four Horsemen trials), but basically I’ve got a good start going here.


There’s no point in my going over everything again, here, so, if you’d like to do a deep dive on how this mural plays a role in a much grander analysis of the Overlook’s structural design, start here.


A sliver of it first appears in the backwards action, during the fade into Wendy having laid Jack out on the lounge’s Grand Stair (31:57-32:04). It makes another quick appearance behind taunting Jack (32:13-32:15). Then during the “You’ve had your whole fucking life to think things over!” line (33:22-33:25).

The backwards dialogue for these three moments:

  • “Mr. Hallorann, are you scared of this place?” “Nah, I ain’t scared of nuthin’ here.”
  • “And some don’t.” (From the larger line, “Some places are like people: some shine, and some don’t.”)
  • “I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel, over the years.”

It would help you understand how I’m thinking about this if you understood my Tower of Fable theory. That theory has to do with the hotel being modelled after ancient Mesoamerican pyramids. Three in particular called the Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl. These pyramids were something called an axis mundi, a kind of holy place connecting the heavens and the earth. So the mirrorform for the first and second moment make it look like Hallorann and Danny are talking about the scariness of an axis mundi, from atop an axis mundi. Such a place would certainly be a place that “shines”. Also, the Pyramid of the Moon was actually many pyramids built overtop one another, so Hallorann’s “a lot of things happened right here” line feels triply apt.

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The next time it appears is at the beginning of the fight, right before the cut to Danny’s final bloodfall vision. (36:09-36:12). Forward Wendy’s dialogue in this moment is, “I made em just how you like em, sunny side up.” According to my Tower of Fable theory, the Pyramid of the Sun corresponds to the spot where Jack’s typewriter sits, so that’s a nice mash-up.

I don’t actually have a mirrorform shot for that moment easily traceable on the site, but I really like this moment from a split-second away, where Jack’s making his tongue face. I’ve often wondered if Jack’s various tongue moments in the film were meant to evoke him being like a serpent, which I thought related to the whole Sidewinder and Boulder subtext. But it does also resemble a lot of Xolotl masks, Xolotl being the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl, who is regarded as the Christ-type figure of Mesoamerican spirituality. Suite 3 corresponds to the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, so this would be rather apt. Also, while Quetzalcoatl is considered a “feathered serpent” man, Xolotl is considered a “dog-headed” man, which goes nicely with how birds frequently appear near Danny, and how dogs appear frequently around the hotel. It’s right here that Jack will eventually embody the Big Bad Wolf.

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It’s behind the surprised Wendy finding the All Work papers (37:05-37:40). Since 37:05 looks like a 237 jumble (reverse the 5 to get 2), it’s neat that forward Jack’s first dialogue here is “I fell in love with it right away.” While backward Jack is asking a petrified Wendy, “How do you like it?” Forward Jack is able to get out his entire speech about his deja vu, and knowing what would be around every corner, before the mural is off screen. In fact, as you can see in this moment, we get a good, long look at the white typewriter (it’ll be grey in every other scene) during this overlay, as if drawing our attention to the Pyramid of the Sun location.

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It’s first forward appearance is 9 seconds later at 37:50-38:02. Another 237 jumble in the 37:50. Of course, room 237 is directly behind this mural, but so is room 238, the room Hallorann will be absorbed into. And so the last second being 38:02 is also an apt jumble.

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I also just want to note how it’s in the last second of the crossfade that backwards Wendy hits the 11th page, which features the All Work line written as diminishing pyramids, lining up perfectly with the Overlook exterior.

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Then its back in the backwards realm 72 seconds later (39:14-39:30). The backwards action is Jack hurling the ball in the exact opposite direction as he’ll later spring out to murder Hallorann. In the Mesoamerican analysis, this is called the Avenue of the Dead, best signified by Hallorann’s murder there. So Jack enacting a kind of parody of it here (complete with a Bugs Bunny in the kill spot), seems almost too perfect.

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The overlay continues until Jack is by the model maze, looking at the bat that Wendy will later club him with. Wendy’s bat almost seems to be pointing at the mural here.

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The next appearance is 37 seconds later (40:07-40:16) at the start of Wendy’s pass across the lounge. I’m using an overlay from the end of that walk to show how the aerial shot of the maze gives us a maze with the same number of layers (7 and 23) as the Grand Stair has. Wendy passes the Grand Stair (aka The Pyramid of the Moon) and makes it all the way to the typewriter (aka The Pyramid of the Sun) during this zoom out on the maze. The Zapotec called themselves the Be’ena Za’a, The Cloud People. And believed their spirits returned to the cloud realm after death. So it’s cool that we would be lifting off from this axis mundi as Wendy is passing between two others.

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A sliver appears 3:02 later at 43:18. Before the cut to Jack’s first typing face, and then returning from 43:30-43:57. The blip doesn’t seem to overlay anything too significant (it’s the start of Dick’s lie about the Torrances being “completely unreliable assholes”), and the 23-second passage overlays just with their pleasantries about Dick not being in sunny Florida, but snowy Stapleton airport, and needing to get up to the Overlook. I will say, the cartoon playing behind Larry Durkin in this scene features a moment where a Herculean flea (the Mighty Angelo) pulls on a dogs tail in a way that makes perfect steps out of them, which he climbs up in order to nest on the dog’s backside. The pyramids I’ve been talking about were lined with such steps.

Also, it might be significant that Durkin has a Coke machine behind him in his station, and Jack had a can of Coke beside him when he was throwing the tennis ball. But it’s funny: of all the interconnection I see in this film, I don’t think the four Coke appearances mean anything.

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It appears in the backwards shot behind Jack typing from 44:32-44:45. Forward Wendy’s dialogue here is about how she’ll “come back with a couple sandwiches for” Jack, and then maybe he’ll let her read a little something. So, this is the only other time Wendy mentions making food for Jack, so perhaps it’s neat that this mural accompanied her bringing him the sunny side up eggs.

As for the significance of sandwich: there’s four etchings by John Webber outside room 237, which he made while on the final voyage of Captain Cook, who died on the Isle of Sandwich. They named a bunch of things Sandwich during that trip in honour of the Earl of Sandwich.

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It accompanies Wendy’s retreat from 45:37-45:48. The significance of the 8am placard, if any here, is lost on me, I must admit. Although, in the next moment, we’ll see Hallorann flying through the skies in his 737. The Be’ena Za’a call themselves “The Cloud People”, remember.

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Then it’s behind crazy stare Jack 37 seconds later (46:25-46:34). The reverse action is Jack murdering the radio, which has a certain Aztec quality in all the zig-zags.

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But I especially like how, at the end of the zoom we get this image, where the eagle statue on the windowsill appears to be perched atop the Overlook as it reflects in the photo of the hotel being built. It’s hard to make out in this shot, but that is a thing that’s happening. Jack had his Stovington Eagles shirt on in the earlier moment. I’m just mentioning this because of all the emphasis here on the Pyramid-esque construction of the hotel, and Kubrick’s usage of eagles speaks perhaps to the “feathered serpent” deity, or it could be a lot of other things. American. Germany. Four Directions.

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Then it’s beside typing Jack at the start of SATURDAY, 37 seconds later (47:01-47:10). And it’s overlaying with the “winter” and “spring” photos outside Ullman’s office. And it’s across from a very Quetzalcoatl-looking painting by Copper Thunderbird, The Great Earth Mother. Also, it sort of goes without saying that the three raging fires that are seen on screen with it, are seen on screen with it, but if this piece symbolizes the fall of Dick Hallorann in some particular way, it’s interesting that room 238 would be right above this blazing inferno. Interesting, and sad.

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Then there’s a big 12:31 break until Wendy is rushing to nightmare Jack’s side (59:40-59:43). Hallorann is speaking to the Forest service for the first time, saying that the operator said that the phone lines are down. In the overlay featuring the 8am placard, Hallorann had just finished having his last talk with the ranger. So I don’t know if this mural is a good or a bad thing, but it seems connected to Hallorann’s rescue mission, and Jack’s status as a murderer.

Also, 12:31 contains that “231”: Jack’s death room number.

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Then it’s beside a post-237 Danny for 31 seconds (60:57-61:28). So every appearance occurs across 29:31 in the mirrorform. The backward action is Jack listing off his dreary prospects, threatening Wendy, and then storming out, giving Danny’s bedroom the death glare seen below. The painting he’s storming past there is Touch of Autumn, so maybe there’s a bit of a seasonal thing going on with the mural. The only season it doesn’t appear in conjunction with is the summer photo (which correlates to Jack), even though that’s the only one of the Mt. Hood Seasonal Photos to move to the lounge. So maybe these four figures are meant to reflect the seasons, and maybe they’re just one of the many things that appear in fours.

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Next art reference: Three John Webber Etchings