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Ralli Quilts – Lila Handicrafts

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Ralli Quilts
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Lila Handicrafts - Ralli Quilts

Lila Handicrafts – Ralli Quilts, Pakistan

 

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Ralli Quilts are remarkable, very traditional quilts made by women in the areas of Sindh, Pakistan, western India, and in surrounding areas. They are just now gaining international recognition, even though women have been making these quilts for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Ralliquilt.com is dedicated to providing quality information about the tradition of ralli making. provides information about the beautiful, unique, hand-made textiles and crafts from Pakistan and India. The lives of the people who make the textiles are woven into each piece.

Every ralli quilt tells a story. It tells of the natural creativity and love of color and design of the women who create them. Every ralli tells the story of the strength of tradition. The basic designs and motifs of rallis have been passed from mother to daughter and woman-to-woman for maybe thousands of years.”

Women in the Indus Region of the Indian subcontinent make beautiful quilts with bright colors and bold patterns. The quilts are called “Ralli” (or rilli, rilly, rallee or rehli) derived from the local word ralanna meaning to mix or connect. Rallis are made in the southern provinces of Pakistan including Sindh, Baluchistan and in the Cholistan desert on the southern border of Punjab as well as in the adjoining states of Gujarat and Rajasthan in India. Muslim and Hindu women from a variety of tribes and castes in towns, villages and also nomadic settings make rallis. Quilt making is an old tradition in the region perhaps dating back to the fourth millennium BC judging by similar patterns found on ancient pottery.

Rallis are commonly used as a covering for wooden sleeping cots, as a floor covering, storage bag, or padding for workers or animals. In the villages, ralli quilts are an important part of a girl’s dowry. Owning many ralli quilts is a measure of wealth.

Rallis are made from scraps of cotton fabric dyed to the desired color. The most common colors are white, black, red and yellow or orange with green, dark blue or purple. For the bottoms of the rallis, the women use old pieces of tie-dye, ajrak or other shawl fabric. Ralli quilts have a few layers of worn fabric or cotton fibers between the top and bottom layers. The layers are held together by thick colored thread stitched in straight lines. The women sit on the ground and do not use a quilting frame.

The number of patterns used on ralli quilts seems to be almost endless, as there is much individual expression and spontaneity in color within the traditional patterns. The three basic styles of rallis are: 1) patchwork made from pieces of cloth torn into squares and triangles and then stitched together, 2) applique made from intricate cut out patterns in a variety of shapes and 3) embroidered quilts where the embroidery stitches form patterns on solid colored fabric. A distinguishing feature of ralli patterning in patchwork and applique quilts is the diagonal placement of similar blocks as well as a variety of embellishments including mirrors, tassels, shells and embroidery.

Lila Handicrafts

Lila Handicrafts is a women’s cooperative from the Thar desert in Pakistan working to uplift women artisans of Indus Valley civilization textile traditions like Ralli Quilts and hand-embroidery. Lila Handicrafts wishes to bring education and health facilities to the artisan families through TRADE instead of AID.

While buying a traditional piece, you are connecting directly with the Artisan or her close representative. So Enjoy Fair Trade Buying!
Lila Handicrafts and its products had been on display at:
• Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, NM USA
• Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Los Angeles, CA USA
• European Patchwork Meeting, FRANCE
• International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoin USA
• La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, Washington USA

Patricia Stoddard

Patricia Stoddard of Ralli Quilts

Patricia Stoddard of Ralli Quilts

"Ralli Quilts" by Patricia Stoddard

“Ralli Quilts” by Patricia Stoddard

“I was not expecting to find the amazingly rich heritage of textiles that I saw when I moved to Pakistan in 1996. There were patterned carpets, pillows, tablecloths, and tents not to mention the wonderful variety of colors, pattern and textures in women’s clothing and shawls. I became fascinated with the quilts of the region. After years of research, in 2003, I published the only book on the subject entitled “Ralli Quilts: Traditional Textiles from Pakistan and India.”

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