Appliqued Quilt Cover, Maonan ethnic minority
Made near Niu Jiang city, Guangxi province, China
An important part of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum's mission is to discover new quilt-related traditions. Bedcovers like this one from South China are rarely seen outside of Guangxi, the province from which they originate. Made by the Maonan people, an ethnic minority with a small population (just under 110,000 members), textiles like this would have served as the top of a quilt cover - an "envelope" into which an undecorated, utilitarian quilt or loose batting would have been inserted for warmth. The quilt cover top is made in a similar way to the "pot-holder" quilts some Western quiltmakers are familiar with: each block is constructed on a foundation fabric, individually bound, then put together with many other blocks to create the final piece. This quilt top was constructed by hand, primarily with a back stitch and a widely spaced couching stitch. The quatrefoil (four-lobed) design is a common one among Maonan quilts, as is the dark-colored background. The IQSCM now has six Maonan quilt covers in its collection and will continue to add quilt-related textiles from other Chinese ethnic groups as they are documented and become available. These groups include the Yao, Dong, and Miao (a large minority group, with nearly 9 million members, who are ethnically related to the Hmong of Southeast Asia).