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Fleur de lis aids in teacup identification

The inclusion of the fleur de lis design and the scene depicting a woman and a man in a period setting and dress, aid in evaluating and assessing a reader's tea set, explains Ask the Experts panelist Susan Mullikin.

Q I cant find any markings on this tea set for four, I’m hoping maybe you could identify it and possibly tell me a little more about it. One of the teacups is missing its handle, and another has a very small chip in it. Other than that it is in great condition.

The plates, cups, teapot, sugar and creamer jar feature the picture of a man and woman walking in what seems to be a park. A fleur de lis is painted on them. Patiently waiting, very curious,
— J.S.
via email

Fleur de Lis is More Than a Design

A Thank you for your curiosity regarding your lovely tea set. The fleur de lis design a most interestingsymbol also referred to as “fleur de lys.” It is looked at as the flower of the lily. The symbol depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower has many meanings. Traditionally it has been used to represent French royalty. In that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life.

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In your inquiry you asked for an identification of your tea set based on your findings of no marks. As “Ladies Home Journal” quoted in their magazine “there is no end to good white China tea sets.” This refers to the vast array of tea sets produced by many various manufacturers. From the photo of the cup provided, the glaze, and the colonial design of the man and woman, I would date your set to the time period of 1940-1950. The tea service as compared to other drinking utensils has always been looked at as a delicate, beautiful ware thereby decorated often with flowers or colonial scenes such as yours.

In regards to value and the fact that one teacup is missing its handle, I assume broken off and not a handleless cup and the fact that another cup has a small chip, I would value your set at $25 to $30 based on the pieces with no damage and its sentimental value to you.

Roye-Woven Navajo Rug

Q I recently acquired a beautiful and very soft wool Navajo rug that is 24 by 31 inches. An attached label indicates that it was woven by Alice Roye. It is item #1956 from Area: Teec Nos Pos. The sale date is Sept. 1991 and the store is Southwestern Arts, Taos, New Mexico. Another label indicates the theme: Yei: rug, Yei: God, Yei beiche: Dance of Grandfathers, Mistake: Traditional flaw. It was made from handspun wool and the colors were made from vegetable dies. If I hang it on a wall, how do I protect it from moths and deterioration?
— W.H.
Hilton, New York

A The Teec Nos Pos area in which your rug was woven is located in the Northeast corner of Arizona. The weaver of your rug, Alice Roye, lives and weaves in a remote area of Teec Nos Pos. This is on the Navajo reservation near the area known as the Four Corners. The Teec Nos Pos rugs are considered to be one of the most intricately detailed of all Navajo rug designs. The tightly woven rug style owes much to the influence of the Persian rug designs and the input of early trader John B.,Moore.

In most Teec weaving, no one design element has more visual weight than any of the others. Weavers took the rough geometry of the design and made it their own. They did this by using objects and motifs that reflected their world and vision. This includes feathers, rainbows, arrows, bows, and even Yei faces. Your rug is known as the “Navajo Yei Rug.”

Messages and Meaning Behind Design

Yei is the Navajo name for the benevolent supernatural beings who bring their healing power to medicinal ceremonies still performed today. They were first portrayed in traditional sand painting designs created for these ceremonies showing a row of front facing stylized stick figures. Between the Yeis corn stalks, feathers, and arrows may appear and a rainbow guardian often surrounds and protects the figures.

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In construction of the rug, Alice uses colors made by boiling the yarn either with native plants or package dyes from the store. Packaged dyes were in the Southwest and became part of Navajo weaving as early as 1870. Alice uses packaged dyes sparingly, preferring the natural grays, blacks, and whites with a touch of brighter color for accent.

For a definite appraised value of your rug I would recommend a specialist in Navajo weavings in your area examine it, though upon research I did notice other rugs by this artist in the range of $1,500 to $3,000. In regards to hanging your rug on your wall to protect it from deterioration, do not choose a wall that is in direct sunlight, this exposure will damage the vegetable dyes over time and do not use raw wood or uncoated metals like nails to hang your rug. When in concern of moth infestation, vacuum your rug often. For proper tips when hanging your rug refer to the internet for step-by-step instructions.

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