Collecting and Recollecting

Collecting and Recollecting

Throughout western India, people make quilts for practical reasons: to have something to sleep under, to hang in doorways, to augment dowries, to sell. They make quilts for personal reasons, as well: to document daily life, to offer as gifts, to signal group affiliation or individuality. The quilts in this exhibition were made by women and men from towns and villages across the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. These craftspeople come from varied geographic, economic, and social backgrounds, but all value quiltmaking for the creative outlet it provides. The textiles often share visual and material similarities, but they also reflect their makers’ own communities, personalities, and life stories.

The IQSCM partnered with researchers from various backgrounds to discover, document, and acquire quilts characteristic of the three regions. The researchers’ approaches were different. Some embarked on intensive fieldwork, employing the help of local guides to conduct interviews with quiltmakers. Others ventured into rural areas hoping for serendipitous quilt discoveries, and recorded their searches with photographs and travelogue entries. A third set—two separate groups of academics—encountered quilts in the course of unrelated research, and were inspired to document the textiles, interview their makers, and in one case, help to establish a women’s quilt cooperative.

Here we share the fruits of these investigations: collected quilts and recollected stories.

Marin Hanson, curator

Gujarat

Gujarat
Gujarat

Both Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace have long-standing interest and experience in the Indian subcontinent. Stoddard lived in Islamabad, Pakistan for over two years and built a comprehensive collection of Pakistani and Indian ralli quilts (the most common type of quilt in this border region), which now belongs to the IQSCM. Wallace lived in New Delhi, India for three years and operates a business importing textiles to support Indian women’s cooperatives. Both women regularly return to the subcontinent. Their backgrounds in academia (Stoddard) and educational administration (Wallace) informed their systematic approach to an IQSCM-funded research trip to Gujarat in 2015.

Stoddard and Wallace chose western India for their focus because they appreciated that Gujarat’s Kutch and Saurashtra regions have the most diverse and extensive quiltmaking traditions of any part of the country. They secured the help of expert local guides Salim Wazir and Alok Tiwari and, traveling to towns and villages, found that new materials and tools are affecting the ways in which people make quilts. In isolated and rural regions, however, they observed that quilts often follow traditional formats, with maverick quiltmakers occasionally breaking established norms. Stoddard and Wallace shot thousands of photos and interviewed over a dozen quiltmakers, eight of whom are represented here in the form of detailed field notes

Maharashtra

Maharashtra
Maharashtra

Mumbai native, textile artist, and avocational researcher, Geeta Khandelwal has spent decades making and studying quilts. In the 1970s, she learned quiltmaking from an American acquaintance and eventually started her own business employing and teaching local women to create handmade quilts for the Western market. Sourcing fabrics from around India, including her home state of Maharashtra, Khandelwal realized that every region has its own quilt styles. In 2010, she decided to look more closely, and traveled to the Maharashtrian countryside to examine the various formats and functions of the state’s quilts. A three-year project resulted in the acquisition and documentation of hundreds of pieces, a handful of which you see here. 

Because this type of research had never been undertaken before in Maharashtra, Khandelwal and her team were striking out with little guidance. Finding quilts (called godhari in many parts of Maharashtra) was often a matter of chance: “It was such a joy when we would turn a curve on a road and unexpectedly come across a godhari drying in the sun.” Khandelwal hopes that by “sharing the magic of handiwork that goes into making of a humble quilt, boundaries between countries, castes and creeds may be broken.” Hailing from a well-to-do, urban family, Khandelwal feels driven to help preserve the craft traditions of Maharashtra’s more poor and remote regions. Her travelogue entries are presented here

Karnataka

Karnataka
Karnataka

While staying with a Siddi family in northern Karnataka in 2004, Henry Drewal noticed the area’s colorful quilts, called kawandi. A professor of African and African Diaspora arts, Drewal was in Karnataka to study the visual and performing arts of Siddi people, descended from East Africans enslaved by the Portuguese beginning in the 16th century, who later escaped bondage and created independent communities in India. The Siddi have made kawandi for generations. Today, Siddi quiltmakers are generally older women who can no longer work in the fields. Drewal and his partner Sarah Khan (an expert on Indian foodways and women’s agriculture), together with several other local and international individuals and organizations, saw an opportunity to help the quiltmakers continue to generate income. They helped establish the Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative, which sells quilts to buyers in the U.S. and Europe. The proceeds help villages and families acquire necessities like seed, fertilizer, farm equipment, and school uniforms, and enable the Cooperative to make interest-free loans.

While visiting her home state of Karnataka in 2013, Shubhapriya Bennur was intrigued by quilts known locally as kaudi. A professor specializing in consumer behavior and international retailing, Bennur was especially drawn to kaudi from rural parts of northern Karnataka. She traveled into the field to collect several pieces for the IQSCM and interview their makers. Bennur learned that, as in other parts of India, most quilts are made using recycled clothing. She also learned that the area’s major quilt types include baby quilts (makkala kaudi), ceremonial quilts (maduvi kaudi), mat or sitting quilts (haasu kaudi) and bedcover quilts (hochu kaudi).

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition

Quiltmaker: Permaben Maheshwari Dangera, age 71
Ethnic Group:  Maheshwari
Village, Region, State: Nani Khakhar, Kutch, Gujarat
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2016.018.0009

Creative Artist in Traditional Village

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Permaben Maheshwari Dangera started her quiltmaking career by carefully imitating traditional styles and patterns, and eventually began to improvise. Her variation on the laheria  or “waves” pattern seen here is rendered in thin strips rather than the more common pieced squares."

Quiltmaker: Sarita Goje, age unknown
Location: Kunegaon, a village near the “hill station” (resort town) of Lonavala, Maharashtra state
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0007

Geeta Khandelwal: "Kunegaon is a small village consisting of about thirty small houses with tiled roofs, a raised verandah in the front, and cattle tied up in the backyard. We went to the house of Datta Goje, who asked his daughter-in-law Sarita to show us some of her godharis. Sarita showed us a godhari she had made for her daughter Neelam, on which she had appliquéd Neelam’s name in the centre. We asked whether it was meant to be a portion of Neelam’s dowry, but she said that it was not customary to include godharis in the dowry.

"When we asked Sarita if she could make a similar godhari for us, she refused, saying that she had a back problem. She had to fetch water from a long distance every day, and bending over to quilt godharis gave her a backache."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: Wai, a village below the “hill station” (resort town) of Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra state
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0009

Geeta Khandelwal: "The woman unlocked the trunk to show us her godharis. One exceptional piece was made using strips of turquoise, red, orange and golden yellow fabric, patched over a printed black sari (wrapped garment). A black sari is rarely worn in Maharashtra—black being regarded as an inauspicious colour—except on the Sankrant festival which always falls on the 14th of January and is considered the coldest day of the year.

"The sari border framed the quilt on all four sides. Small triangular pieces, called kapanis, had been used as decorative edging. At the centre of the quilt the woman had appliquéd a face with eyes and mouth which, she explained, symbolised Surya, the sun. The sun seemed to be her favourite motif, which she had repeated on a tin storage box in her tent."

Quiltmaker: Bibjan Babusab, age unknown, Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative member
Village, City, District, State: Gunjavati, Mundgod, Uttar Kannad, Karnataka
Date: c. 2018
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 2018.074.0005
Kawandi (quilt)

The Siddi are an ethnic group descended from East Africans who were brought to India as slaves beginning in the sixteenth century. Today, some Siddi communities—many of which are located in Karnataka state—remain largely isolated from their neighbors. Siddi quiltmaking is a longstanding folk art, practiced by women over many generations.

Adapted from Henry John Drewal, “Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) of India,” African Arts (Vol. 46:1), 2013.

Quiltmaker: Sajnaben Harijan, age unknown
Ethnic Group: Marwada Meghwal, a subgroup of the Meghwal ethnic group
Village, City, Region: Sanjod Nagar, Bhuj, Kutch
Quilt Date: 1998
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.045.0001

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Sajnaben Harijan is a member of the largely agricultural Marwada Meghwal ethnic group. She did not attend school as a child. Instead, she learned embroidery starting around age 8 and was an expert by age 15. She learned quiltmaking later, as a married woman, and passed the skill on to her two daughters.

"Constructing a dharki (quilt) can take Sajnaben up to two and a half months. She made over 25 dharki for her daughter’s dowry but still has about 150 quilts in her home. This quilt was made “three years before the earthquake”—a reference to the 2001 tremor that destroyed large parts of Gujarat’s Kutch region and killed over 12,000 people there. Sajnaben says that many people in Kutch reckon time based on that traumatic event."

Quiltmaker: Laxshmiben Harijan, age unknown
Ethnic Group: Meghwal
Village, Region: Bhujodi, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.045.0002

The Uncle’s Quilt

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Because her mother died when she was 10, Laxshimiben Harijan had to learn quiltmaking from other family members and neighbors. She has been making quilts, including many of her own design (like this one), for 40 years. Laxshmiben gave each of her three daughters more than 20 quilts as dowry gifts. Her daughters do not make quilts themselves.

"The gift of a quilt from a maternal uncle to a bride is an important Kutchi wedding custom. This special quilt, made of block-printed fabric, is called shirak, and its filling consists of old clothes from the bride’s family. Tradition dictates that an aunt always puts at least two stitches into the quilt. Laxshmiben still owns and cherishes her own wedding shirak"

Quiltmaker: Puriben, age 42
Ethnic Group: Bhopa Rabari, a sub-group of the Rabari
Village, Region: Bet Dwarka Island, off the coast of Saurashtra
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0001

Tradition and Change on an Island

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Traditionally, the Rabari people were pastoralists, herding cattle, camels, and sheep from pasture to pasture throughout northwestern India. Today, most Rabari are settled in villages and towns. Unlike their mother, Puriben’s four daughters have attended school and wear Indian, not Rabari clothing. When they are older, Puriben will allow them to choose whether or not to get customary tattoos like the ones she has on her arms and neck.

"Rabari quilt motifs generally consist of large, stylized appliqué shapes that represent flowers and trees as well as peacocks, parrots, and other auspicious animals. Puriben says that, when arranging appliqué shapes, the flowers are placed on the corners first, followed by the center shapes. Afterwards, other motifs fill in the background. Like other Rabari women, Puriben does not use a thimble, but often wraps fabric around her finger as protection from the needle."

Quiltmakers: Ramji Devraj Gordiya, age unknown, and his mother, Hansbai, age 66
Ethnic Group:  Meghwal
Village, District, Region: Hodka, Banni, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0005 and 2014.076.0012

Tailor Turns Quiltmaker and Family Prospers

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Until the devastating 2001 Kutch earthquake, Ramji Devraj Gordiya was training to be a tailor. After an influx of foreigners, Ramji decided to make quilts to sell to these aid workers and tourists. His business has thrived, and he now employs four of his five brothers, as well as 150 local women who quilt the patchwork tops. Although some neighbors initially criticized the brothers for doing “women’s work,” others tried to copy their success once they saw that Ramji’s business was profitable.

"Ramji is inspired by his quiltmaker mother, Hansbai. He also is thankful for Patricia Stoddard’s book, Ralli Quilts, which he discovered 15 years ago when a customer recommended it. He now considers it his “bible,” because it features quilts with patterns that had been forgotten in his village."

Quiltmakers: Ramji Devraj Gordiya, age unknown, and his mother, Hansbai, age 66
Ethnic Group:  Meghwal
Village, District, Region: Hodka, Banni, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0005 and 2014.076.0012

Tailor Turns Quiltmaker and Family Prospers

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Until the devastating 2001 Kutch earthquake, Ramji Devraj Gordiya was training to be a tailor. After an influx of foreigners, Ramji decided to make quilts to sell to these aid workers and tourists. His business has thrived, and he now employs four of his five brothers, as well as 150 local women who quilt the patchwork tops. Although some neighbors initially criticized the brothers for doing “women’s work,” others tried to copy their success once they saw that Ramji’s business was profitable.

"Ramji is inspired by his quiltmaker mother, Hansbai. He also is thankful for Patricia Stoddard’s book, Ralli Quilts, which he discovered 15 years ago when a customer recommended it. He now considers it his “bible,” because it features quilts with patterns that had been forgotten in his village."

Quiltmakers: Khimiben Manubhai Solanki, age 52, and her mother-in-law, age 90
Ethnic Group:  Vankar 
City, Region: Rajkot, Saurashtra
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0003

Market Scraps Get a New Life

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Khimiben Manubhai Solanki learned to make quilts (goudri) at age 14 from her mother and grandmother, and later, from her mother-in-law. She acquires goudri fabric from the scrap market in Gujarat’s largest city, Ahmedabad. At home, her mother-in-law sorts and cleans the scraps, and Khimiben spends about three days planning the pattern for the quilt’s top, and machine-sewing the pieces together. Quilting itself takes one full day, at the beginning of which she pre-loads ten needles with thread. Khimiben’s quilts are generally heavy and are used on the floor or in winter. She writes her name on the back of her quilts so that when the neighbors borrow them, she will get them back.

"After explaining why we came to visit, Khimiben and her mother-in-law insisted on giving us a quilt as a gift for the Museum. In return, we gave them a Diwali (Festival of Lights) gift of money in the same amount as a quilt would have cost. Everyone was happy"

Quiltmaker: Sofiya Mutwa, age 35
Ethnic Group:  Mutwa
Village, District, Region: Dordo, Banni, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0004

Beautiful Creations behind Village Walls

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "The Mutwa people are originally from Sindh, in what is now Pakistan. They migrated to Gujarat’s Banni district about 300 years ago, at the invitation of the King of Kutch. Today, the Mutwa live an isolated life beyond a police checkpoint near the Pakistan border.

"Sofiya and her neighbors make quilts similar to the ralli quilts from across the India-Pakistan border. But while most Sindhi ralli have four to six borders, Mutwa quilts usually have 12 one-inch borders with fine kungri (sawtooth) designs. Some quilts have up to an astounding 22 borders.

"Sofiya is pleased that she made her 20 dowry quilts by herself. She is also proud of the shisha (embroidered mirror work) that she and other Mutwa women create, which is much smaller and finer than shisha from other parts of India and Pakistan."

Quiltmaker: Hawabai Fakirmamad, age 85
Ethnic Group: Siddi
Town, Region: Bhuj, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0002

Quiltmaking, from Chore to Profession

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Hawabai Fakirmamad was born in India, but her ancestors came from Africa many generations ago. The Siddi people were brought to India starting around the 16th century, mainly as slaves and mercenary soldiers. They have maintained their own communities in India to this day, frequently remaining separate from larger Indian society. The city of Bhuj, however, is a regional center, so Hawabai lives in a diverse, metropolitan area.

"Hawabai says she is known in her area as a quiltmaker, and often quilts for others as a business. She learned quiltmaking from her mother-in-law at age 20. At first she got angry at this “chore” and resisted practicing; now she depends on quiltmaking for her income. She proudly displays her thumb to visitors, telling them that she no longer has a thumbprint—”it is the sign of a quilter,” she says."

Quiltmaker: Permaben Maheshwari Dangera, age 71
Ethnic Group:  Maheshwari
Village, Region: Nani Khakhar, Kutch
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2015.095.0002

Creative Artist in Traditional Village

Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace: "Permaben Maheshwari Dangera often departs from standard designs and practices. She made this mustard-yellow quilt without a repeating pattern. Instead, she arranged dissimilar blocks in a seemingly random format that pleased her eye.

"Permaben describes how her maverick approach to quiltmaking was not widely admired in her village. She says, “the people in the village made fun of me.” She stopped showing her work to others, but continued to make quilts.

"We were so enthusiastic about Permaben’s non-traditional quilts that she continued to bring out all of them to show us. As we left, there was a tear in her husband’s eye. We assumed it was because his wife received so much appreciation from us, and some of her work would now go to an American museum."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: outside the city limits of Pune
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0022

Geeta Khandelwal: "As we approached, three women with weather-beaten faces wearing gold earrings and heavy silver waist belts (which constituted their wealth) came up to us. When we told them that we were looking for godharis, they ran back to their tents to get them. When they returned, twenty or more women and young girls eager to sell their own creations followed them."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: Jalochi, a village on the outskirts of the city of Baramati
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0018

Geeta Khandelwal: "As we entered the very first house we struck gold! When we asked the women of the household if they made godharis, they delightedly brought out some exquisite pieces, which they had quilted for personal use. Some were quite large in size and others small enough to be baby quilts.

"As we sat looking at the godharis, word spread quickly through the settlement, and other women of the community appeared in droves, curious to know what we city women wanted. When they realized the purpose of our visit, many of them ran to get their own quilts, and soon surrounded us, clamouring to show and offering to sell them."

Quiltmaker: unidentified, likely Muslim
Location: Chiplun, a city at the base of the Western Ghats, a mountain range running parallel to the west coast of India
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0019

Geeta Khandelwal: "I observed that the Hindu and Muslim communities in Chiplun each had a distinct style of work. The godhari made by Hindu women is a simple quilt fashioned from layers of old, worn sari (wrapped garment) lengths sewn together and held at the edges by the same sari border. The women make them in their spare time, after working in their fields. There is no embellishment on these godharis. Their counterparts from the Muslim community who adhere to the purdah system and are not allowed to leave their homes or go to work in the fields, evidently have more time on hand. Some of them were machine-stitched but hand-quilted using a stitch the size of a grain of rice. Not only do their godharis have planned patchwork designs, they are made from new fabric, in carefully chosen colours."

Quiltmaker: unidentified
Location: Kolhapur, an ancient city in southwest Maharashtra
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0016

Geeta Khandelwal: "Like quilts elsewhere in Maharashtra, the vakal (quilts) of this area are worked from the outer edges towards the centre. When the vakal is near completion, a slit-like pocket is made in the centre. It is called the “stomach” of the vakal, and in it are placed a chakri (a dry, unleavened piece of homemade bread), kum kum (turmeric powder), and some rice grains. The ritual is performed on a Thursday, a day auspicious to Annapurna, Goddess of Plenty, and the belief is that the goddess will ensure that the user will always have a full stomach. The stomach of the vakal is filled only once and the contents remain there permanently."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: Wai, a village below the “hill station” (resort town) of Mahabaleshwar
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0001

Geeta Khandelwal: "As their men-folk earned well from telling the fortunes of the tourists around Mahabaleshwar, the women could afford to buy new materials for their godharis.

"This quilt, however, uses blouse materials, sari (wrapped garment) pieces and seed bags printed with the logo and emblem of the seed distributor. In the centre is an orange-green florette, and additional patches of fluorescent green and orange have been stitched randomly. The four borders of the godhari have been decorated with small colourful kapanis or triangles."

Quiltmaker: unidentified
Location: in the countryside near the city of Nagpur
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0004

Geeta Khandelwal: "We drove in the countryside outside of Nagpur, and along the main road we spied a bunch of huts. Hoping to find some interesting godharis, we stopped to speak to the people there. To our surprise, the men turned out to be local physicians—nadi veda practitioners. They dispensed Ayurvedic medicines made from medicinal herbs gathered from the nearby forest. One of the men offered to show us his household godharis as his wife had gone to work in the fields. It was a pleasant surprise to come across a man who was so proud of his wife’s handiwork.

"This quilt features a fabric printed with the symbol of the Indian National Congress political party. Fabrics are often printed with political imagery for use in rallies and other partisan activities."

Quiltmaker: unidentified
Location: The Konkan Coast, a strip of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountains
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0035

Geeta Khandelwal: "The Konkan is a fertile strip of land on the west coast of India. It turned out to be a fertile hunting ground for godharis as well. Lunch boxes packed, we drove southwards, past lush paddy fields, mango orchards, and the wrecks of cars and trucks—driving in India is a treacherous business, and accidents are common. Luckily, our driver, Ramikant, was not only experienced and vigilant, he participated full-heartedly in our search, collecting names and information about villages through his mobile phone.

"A young girl of about twelve, excited to have visitors, urged her mother to show us her godharis. Finally the woman relented and brought down the cardboard boxes in which they were stored. The godharis had been individually wrapped in soft cloth to protect them from dust and were in excellent condition."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: Wai, a village below the “hill station” (resort town) of Mahabaleshwar
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0010

Geeta Khandelwal: "We had reached the temporary homes of the Joshis, a tribe of itinerant fortune-tellers who make a living by predicting the future through the medium of the Nandibail [fortune-telling bull]. They also prepare the horoscope of a newborn child, given the date and time of birth, for a small fee.

"This quiltmaker—the wife of an itinerant fortune-teller—has attempted to create a kundali or astrological chart by superimposing coloured strips to form the various planetary ‘houses’ over the basic design of concentric squares."

Quiltmaker: unidentified member of the Joshi (fortune-teller) ethnic group
Location: outside the city limits of Pune
Geeta Khandelwal Collection
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
2015.067.0034

Geeta Khandelwal: "We spent two hours with the fortune-tellers in the mid-afternoon heat selecting and photographing a few good-quality godharis."

Quiltmaker: Ramijabi Madarsab, age unknown, Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative member
Village, City, District: Kendelsgeri, Mundgod, Uttar Kannad
Date: c. 2018
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 2018.074.0006

Kawandi (quilt)

To make a kawandi, a Siddi woman begins with a base made from a length of sari (wrapped garment) fabric. Starting at one corner and working her way around—usually counter-clockwise—toward the center, she attaches overlapping cloth patches to a base fabric with rows of running stitches. Siddi quiltmakers do not consider a quilt properly finished until folded, triangular phula (flowers) are attached to each corner. Otherwise, according to one quiltmaker, “the quilt would be naked!”

When their daily schedules permit, women sometimes work alone on a kawandi. They also might work together in a group, sitting outdoors on a verandah, or inside near an open door or window.

Adapted from Henry John Drewal, “Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) of India,” African Arts (Vol. 46:1), 2013. 

Quiltmaker: Karimbi Suleman, age unknown, Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative member
Village, City, District: Mainalli, Mundgod, Uttar Kannad
Date: c. 2013
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 2018.074.0003

Kawandi (quilt) 

Quiltmaking is often practiced by older Siddi women who can no longer engage in agricultural labor. They make quilts for themselves and their offspring, and especially value quilts made for grandchildren. Crib-sized quilts like this one are considered important to a child’s development, since they provide visual stimulus and diversion.

Adapted from Henry John Drewal, “Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) of India,” African Arts (Vol. 46:1), 2013.

Quiltmaker: Iramma Kademani (1915-2010)
Village, District: Kumati, Bijapur
Date: 1985
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 2013.037.0001

Hochu Kaudi (bed quilt) 

Shubhapriya Bennur: "For most of her life, Iramma Kademani lived in a joint dwelling with about 50 family members all under one roof. She spent most of her days on household chores, so there was little time left to pursue her hobbies: quiltmaking and embroidery. Yet, in the course of her lifetime, Iramma managed to make more than 200 quilts from recycled clothing and small pieces of fabric. This quilt’s outermost strips are made from the border of an illkal sari, a wrapped garment with a design unique to northern Karnataka."

Quiltmaker: Katumbi Sharief, age unknown, Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative member
Village, City, District: Mainalli,    Mundgod, Uttar Kannad
Date: c. 2018
Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation, 2018.074.0001

Kawandi (quilt) 

Although Siddi quiltmakers all follow the same basic format and method of construction, they often add supplementary design elements. Some apply tikeli (small, brightly colored squares) onto of the first layer of patches for extra ornament. Others decorate their corners with multiple, L-shaped brackets, a motif said to be popular among Muslim Siddi.

Adapted from Henry John Drewal, “Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) of India,” African Arts (Vol. 46:1), 2013.

Works in the Exhibition

Featured Media

Featured Media
Featured Media

Additional Resources

Additional Resources
Additional Resources

"Chasing Quilts Through India" presentation by Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace on June 2, 2019, at the International Quilt Museum.

Patricia Stoddard, Ralli Quilts (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publications), 2003.

Devoted to the ralli form of Pakistani and Indian textile, Ralli Quilts informed the approach Patricia Stoddard and Martha Wallace took during their 2015 IQSCM-sponsored study trip to Gujarat, India.

Geeta Khandelwal, Godharis of Maharashtra (Saint-Étienne-de-Montluc, France: Quiltmania), 2013.

The travelogue-style entries presented in this exhibition were drawn from Geeta Khandelwal’s engaging and colorful Godharis of Maharashtra, which focuses on quilts from this western Indian state.

Patrick Finn, Quilts of India: Timeless Textiles (New Delhi, India: Nyogi Books), 2014.

The comprehensive, richly illustrated Quilts of India: Timeless Textiles is based on research conducted by Patrick Finn during an IQSCM-sponsored research fellowship from 2013 to 2014.

Ralli Quilts and Godharis of Maharashtra are available for purchase in the museum shop.

"Collecting and Recollecting: Contemporary Quilts in Western India" was made possible through the research, writing, and guidance of the exhibition’s contributors: Dr. Patricia Stoddard, Dr. Martha Wallace, Mrs. Geeta Khandelwal, Dr. Henry Drewal, Dr. Sarah Khan, and Dr. Shubhapriya Bennur. The Robert and Ardis James Foundation supported Dr. Stoddard and Dr. Wallace’s India fieldwork, and Carol Veillon of Quiltmania, Inc. generously allowed us to reproduce travelogue entries from Geeta Khandelwal’s book, Godharis of Maharashtra. Photography credits - Gujarat: Patricia Stoddard, Martha Wallace, Salim Wazir; Maharashtra: Geeta Khandelwal, Mangesh Parab, Tobias Megerle, Charu Gupte; Karnataka: Henry Drewal, Sarah Khan, Shubhapriya Bennur. Additional support for this exhibition has been provided by Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Friends of International Quilt Study Center & Museum and Nebraska State Quilt Guild.
Event Date
Friday, February 22, 2019 to Sunday, August 18, 2019