Zhuang ethnic group
Probably made in Nandan County, Guangxi, China
Cotton and silk
Machine appliqué, hand piecing
Fish, which symbolize abundance in Chinese culture, play a prominent role in this quirky piece from the Zhuang people. When depicted in pairs, like in the top left block, fish also can reference fertility and marital bliss. Near the center are two fish swirling around each other; in this format, they resemble the Daoist yin/yang symbol for balance and harmony.
A few unique touches give this quilt cover extra character: the buttons placed where lines intersect, the bird’s-eye weave of the border fabric, and the four blue triangles that meet to create an eye-grabbing, off-center focus. Like most Southwest Chinese quilt covers, this piece's blocks were constructed on a foundation and individually bound before the quiltmaker whip-stitched them all together in a grid.
This piece is featured in Quilts of Southwest China, which runs June 3-September 28.