Darlene is a member of the well known Littleben family, a group of several weavers in Northern Navajo Land famous for their Teec textiles.
This style, developed after the turn of the century, is said to have been influenced by a local missionary, "Mrs. Wilson." The idea was that rug sales could be improved if the weavers catered to the then popular taste for Persian carpets in the Eastern U. S. The first designs were her interpretations of "Persianesque" patterns. Whatever, the Teec style is typified as having very intricate designs, and trend towards more flamboyant colors. Recently, colors and complexities of design have been subdued for more compatibility with contemporary tastes.
The Teec Nos Pos style of rug design arose in a location with a trading post by the same name. It's in the northeast corner of the Arizona portion of the Navajo reservation. Initially it was a regional design typical of traders' efforts to market a distinctive style that would appeal to a wide range of customers. As was typical of many Navajo rugs designs, this pattern was inspired by the national interest in oriental-style rugs in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Teec rugs tend to be quite intricate in their design and incorporate geometric patterns as well as an elaborate border, along with the use of varied and multiple colors.
Among the modern weavers of this pattern, the Littleben family of Rock Point, Arizona has taken the use of color to a new level. Elsie Begay, Darlene Littleben, Bessie Littleben, Dorothy Littleben, Jessie Littleben, Irene Littleben and Genevieve Curtis are all Littleben sisters that have learned to weave from their mother Lucy.
Although their styles vary slightly, they all incorporate an astonishing rainbow of colors into their rugs. They might use anywhere from thirty colors to over 60. And despite the number of colors, they are carefully chosen to blend together into a pleasing tapestry of hues.
Navajo Weavings at True West Gallery
A time honored tradition passed down through the women in the family, the ancient art of Navajo weaving is still alive today. Originally meant for internal trade and collecting among Native Americans, woven blankets and rugs became sought after and collected by the general population in the mid to late 1800's through Trading Posts and Harvey Houses. True West Gallery, in the Santa Fe Plaza, features the very best in contemporary Navajo weavings from master weaver Bessie Littleben and family, and The Spider Rock girls, including Cara Gorman and Emily Malone. As Lorenzo Hubbell, founder of the famous Hubbell Trading Post once stated, "A good Navajo weaving is better than having money in the bank."
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