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An Explosion of Pakistani Ralli Quilts

Written on December 21, 2009

A client stopped by to look at my collection of ralli quilts from Sindh, a region that straddles the Pakistan/India border.  I pulled out all the quilts so we could look at them, and they ended up in a big pile–and I thought this haphazard arrangement showed off their diverse colors and patterns really nicely.

These rallis all happen to be bedcovers, but using the same technique of piecing and quilting, the ladies of Sindh would also fashion bags, saddle blankets and other household items.

The photos shown on this post show the proper fronts of the rallis, which are always based on a kind of repeat-pattern geometric design using scraps of  cotton cloth as the medium.  Very often, however, the backs of rallis employ a more expressionistic and less formalized piecing of repurposed cloth— and the backs are generally more to my liking.

Notice the tremendous amount of piecing, applique work and hand stitching that make up each of these rallis.

This Wednesday, on my website, I’ll be offering one of these beauties for sale.  I selected to show a ralli with a beautifully composed “front” and a back that is stylistically very different from the formalized design of the front.


Stay tuned.

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  1. Comment by Corbie:

    How far back do quilts like this date in Pakistan?

    There’s some ongoing debate about how far back patchwork quilting (as opposed to whole cloth quilting) goes back in Europe and the colonies in North America; I’m wondering if maybe a few of these quilts might have been exported from Asia to Europe in the 17th century and consequently inspired Europeans to start doing patchwork in imitation.

    December 29, 2009 @ 2:47 pm