11 August 2013

Indian quilts at FOQ

Various people mentioned that this quilt is the one thing they'd like to take home from Festival of Quilts this year - it was in the "Banjara: Historic Indian Textiles" display -
Some close-ups of the many layers, worn through by much use -

A godhari from Geeta Khandelwal's slide show -
It's made from sari borders, with the addition of a humble seed bag when the sari fabric ran out. Other quilts shown in her lecture, made in the rural area around Mumbai (Bombay), were available in her display -
The quilts are made for personal use, not sale, and are rooted in religious beliefs and rituals.
Some show an African influence - the population of the area includes descendants of traders from East Africa.
Unusually, quiltmaking starts from the outer edge, with strips being added until the centre is reached. A razor blade is used to cut the strips, and the cut edges are folded under to make the triangles.
Including the name of the child for whom the quilt was made is unusual, and there is often suspicion about going to school in these villages - the main education is to learn the religious texts, orally.
Quilts are washed in the river, and laid on roofs to dry. This is done before and after the monsoon. The monsoon is the most productive time for quiltmaking. Quilts are stored by being hung over rafters.
The quilts are heavy - they are filled with old clothing - sari, dhoti, lunghi.
Quilting is with white thread - white is the only colour available. A cloth thimble is used, and a large needle. The fabric is held in place by stones during sewing, and measurements are based on body parts - for example, quilting lines are spaced one finger apart or two fingers apart.
The black sari is worn on only one day of the year, 14 January - Makar Sankrati, to celebrate the arrival of spring -
At the centre, when the quilt is finished, rice, jaggery and powders (turmeric, kumkum) are sewn into a little pocket, offerings to Anapurna, goddess of food, cooking, and nourishing care. They are left in place when the quilt is washed.


FireHorse3 said...

What a great exhibition! I love the 'free' way that some of the quilts have been put together. The stitching on the first one is gorgeous: I can see why it was a favourite with so many :)

Kit Vincent said...

These are great shots Margaret - some of these pieces are stunning. Thanks so much for this post and including design and technical insights.

ann said...


I really appreciate you taking the trouble to share.

Helen from Hobart said...

Thank You Margaret for sharing these beautiful village heirlooms.
Really makes me understand kantha so much better,

magsramsay said...

My favourite too! I took lots of photos of the worn layers.

Anonymous said...

These are fabulous - so full of life. The worn one looks like the view with a mirror in front and behind. Such depth. Thank you for sharing your photos.

Sandy said...

Thanks for this post. Somehow with all my duties I missed this exhibit.

VivJM said...

This was my favourite exhibit at the FOQ this year. Thanks for sharing your photos. I bought the accompanying book and it is beautiful and fascinating, so am looking forward to many hours poring over it!