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A Faded, Abraded and Beautifully Colored Layered Ralli

Written on November 8, 2010

Today I am showing a magnificently worn, off-square, stitched and appliqued cotton ralli which was made in the Sindh region of Pakistan. A ralli is a quilted textile made from layers of discarded cloth; rallis are sewn into various sizes for various purposes.  This piece measures 29″ x 29″ or 73.5 cm x 73.5 cm and was most likely used as a seating cushion of sorts.The name ralli is derived from the local Sindhi word ralanna which means to mix or to connect. Rallis can be used as dowry items as well as symbol of a family’s wealth.This ralli is magnificently destroyed by wear; the layers of this quilted cloth are all exposed by years of abrasion and use, so colors that were once hidden are now revealed through the action of usage and wear.

The strong diagonal composition of this ralli is dynamic–and unusual.  The soft colors are just gorgeous.

Those of you familiar with the Japanese resist dye technique, shibori, will see similarities between the areas of abrasion on this ralli, below, and the shibori technique called mokumeMokume shibori is achieved by sewing a running stitch, bundling and pulling tight the stitched cloth and dyeing it, the result being a motif that suggests wood grain.

This strange and wonderful ralli most likely dates to the middle of the twentieth century.

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  1. Comment by Christi:

    This is unbelievably BEAUTIFUL…like ripples left behind from a tide.
    Thank you for posting this!
    So inspiring.

    November 8, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  2. Comment by Lis:

    Those colours are staggering and the texture just adds even more to this wonderful piece. I am so inspired by this.

    November 9, 2010 @ 5:12 am

  3. Comment by maya:

    Its unreal – so fabulous in all its worn out beauty. Wonder how it got worn out to create that shibori like effect.

    November 9, 2010 @ 9:43 am

  4. Comment by Jesse Lu:

    Oooh, this is mesmerizing.

    November 11, 2010 @ 12:23 am

  5. Comment by Patricia G:

    very beautiful worn effects and colours!

    November 23, 2010 @ 2:24 pm