Siddi Quilts of Karnataka

Those of you who are members of the Modern Quilt Guild and had signed up for my webinar will have had a chance to see the quilts I encountered on my journey into North Karnataka last year. Preparing for that webinar reminded me about this post from my old blog. 


Last year, as we headed to Goa for our annual holiday, we decided to take an extra day to visit the humble settlements of the Siddi Community in the Ghats of North West Karnataka. My journey took me to places I would have never even thought of going to! They were not even on the Google map!!!

After spending a lot of time searching for these settlements, we finally spotted some Siddi kids walking on the street. They gave us the names of the places and then we proceeded to look for them.

The first village we visited was Uginkeri... A small town with little houses. The verandah was usually open and the floor smoothened with a mixture of cowdung, mud and water!

We met Meera here.  She is a school teacher at the local primary school. She did not make quilts hersefl, but promptly took us to her neighbor - Dhumri, who did.

We were greeted by this little chicken tied to a hook in the wall with a string! We were later told that he kept getting in trouble with the street dogs and had to kept tied up for is own safety.

The sight and the story of the chicken sure made this guy very happy!

Meet Dhumri - the first Siddi Quilt Maker I met. She was a lovely warm woman who was totally at ease not only showing me her quilts, but also talking about her life. The best part??? I had been dreading going to the place because I had heard that people had difficulty getting to understand their language. I had been looking for someone who spoke Kannada (the state language) to come with me. But these people spoke Marathi (my mother tongue)!!!
That came as a pleasant surprise. And then the conversations started flowing more freely!

Dhumri not only showed me her quilt, Kawandi - as they call it, but also showed me how to make it. This was her reaction when she saw pictures of some of the quilts that I made!

Next up, we visited Clara, Meera's grandmother. She had visitors from the other quilting town of Mainalli. So we chatted with them while Clara brought her quilts to us.

I loved Clara's house as well as her super impressive and rich detailed quilt!

That's the lovely ,albeit shy Clara and her super gorgeous quilt.

After spending some time here, we went off to Mainalli. This town is more popular, because the local church and the missionaries have organized the sales of quilts made by these people. I found the quilts here to be lighter in weight and better finished than Uginkeri.

The people were also more open when it came to showing their quilts (not how to make them) and putting a price on them.

Here is Paskin with her wonderful quilt.

Our next stop was at Marianne's house. Once again, the verandah, made with brick and concrete this time, was our favorite spot.
Her husband was very vocal about the fact that it takes ages to complete a single quilt - about 3 months - and they manage to make only Rs 3000 (about US$ 45) for it. 

Marianne showed us a quilt in progress. I once again got a chance to try my hand at making it.

After I came home about a week later, (we went on to Goa for our annual holiday!) I was totally inspired to make a quilt using the same technique.

So here's my first version of a Siddi Quilt - Indian Terrain #1

A small 19" x 23" version, I used the same process that the Siddis use to make theirs, except that I used a sewing machine instead of hand stitching the layers together.

I even added the small corner bits! I used scraps from 7 years of quilting along with some lovely Khann fabric borders! My next attempt is definitely going to be using some lovely Aurifil floss and hand sewing!

Quilt stats :

Name : Indian Terrain # 1
Size : 19" x 23"
Materials used : Cotton fabric scraps, Khann borders, Batting, Aurifil Thread
Experience : Priceless, inspiring!

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