Colorful Tuesday – Soulful Stitching from the Siddis in India

These remarkable quilts are made by Siddi women of India who are part of the African diaspora. Aren’t they extraordinary?  Nahtzugabe, a German blogger friend made a beautiful Kantha piece, inspired me to wander the web looking for different styles of Kantha stitching.

Scholar Henry John Drewal has been researching the arts, identities, cultures, and histories of African descendants in India and helped establish the Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative.  He has also organized several traveling exhibitions. Visit his website to read all about his work in this interesting article.

The Siddis of Karnataka, India are the descendants of both early African immigrants to South Asia and enslaved Africans brought to Goa in the beginning of the 16th century by the Portuguese. While they have adjusted to many aspects of Indian cultures, they have also retained some of their traditions, one of them being their vibrant patchwork, also called kawandi. Made with vintage clothing and highly individualistic, quilters share clear opinions about the beauty and quality of their quilts.

Here’s another interesting interpretation of patchwork. Lambert, who stitches everything by hand uses different colored thread to create these wonderful pillows:

On Etsy: Bohemian Pillow  by Lambert

Absolutely amazing isn’t it?

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16 Responses to “Colorful Tuesday – Soulful Stitching from the Siddis in India”

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  1. Suschna says:

    Yes, amazing. And reminds me of the Gee’s Bend Quilts!

  2. aj says:

    what a great post ! they remind me of gee’s bend quilts…too. i never thought about african diaspora in india.

  3. Vicki K says:

    These are so beautiful!! Well, they do have a Gee’s Bend feel but the obvious stitching (albeit more wonky) looks like the Japanese Sashiko style. That top photo really makes me want to stitch!!

  4. Love the lively, confetti like quilts of the Siddi women. I agree with Suschna, the quilts do seem related to Gee’s Bend quilts. Interesting. Like American gospel music, whose tunes can be traced back to Africa, the quilts seem seeped in African Arts traditions.

  5. Evi says:

    Oh, they are beautiful! Vibrant and so very colourful. All that stitching must surely be a labour of love and to use one of these quilts would give the feeling of being covered in the essence of the maker. She (or he) would have put so much of herself into making a quilt like that…….. thanks for sharing their beauty!

  6. Namitha says:

    Lovely vibrant colours – so many communities have different embroidery styles. In Karnataka, there is another style called “kasoothi”. Wish I was better at needlework!!! My husband has long given up any hopes of me stitching on even a button – and does it himself if the need arises. And does a much better job too! I wanted to send you the link to this article – something I thought you’d be interested in reading about.

  7. Fantastic quilts!!

  8. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Namitha, I’ll definitely read this article.

  9. Lambert says:

    I love the artistry and the ingenuity of those quilts.
    Many thanks for featuring my pillow as well.

  10. Kate says:

    My, those quilts are glorious! So inspiring. And I love Lambert’s cushion with that exuberant, bold stitching.

  11. persuede says:

    gorgeous! i’m slightly obsessed, these are so beautiful…i knew about the siddis but didn’t know about their tradition of quilting. they are extraordinary.

  12. Jacqueline Lambert says:

    J’aime les couleurs de votre coussin; I love your pattern’s pillow

  13. I pinned this picture on Pinterest, and so far it has 16 repins~
    Just thought I’d share.

  14. Thanks a lot for using free time to create “Colorful Tuesday
    – Soulful Stitching from the Siddis in India | annekata”.
    Thank you once more ,Manuel

  15. kathrin says:

    My pleasure!

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