A Large and Beautifully "Boro" Sindhi Ralli: Layers Revealed through Wear
mid twentieth century
84" x 55", 213 cm x 140 cm
A ralli is a traditional, quilted textile made from layers of discarded, recycled cotton cloth and configured into a multitude of traditional patterns. The back of this ralli is highlighted in the photos that accompany this post.
This ralli was made in Sindh, Pakistan, a southern area that is contiguous to the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where some of these quilted textiles are also sewn. Lines and lines of running stitch secure and strengthen the layers of cloth that make a ralli.
A large ralli such as this one is used as a bed cover for traditional wooden sleeping cots, as a floor covering, bag or as padding for a work animal. Both Hindu and Muslim women create these textiles, whose name is derived from the local word ralanna which means to mix or to connect.
And this particular ralli is wonderfully rich in personality and in history.
The proper back, our preferred side of this quilt, shows evidence of its long life and its hard use: layers of recycled cottons, some of them hand blocked cottons, were stitched one on top of the other to create this quilt. The distress to the surface has peeled away the many layers to reveal each one in various degrees. This gradual sloughing of layers leaves us with a cloth that is unintentionally visually arresting while at the same time shows its structure, which was never meant to be seen.
The proper face of the quilt is hand stitch from a multitude of small pieces of cotton which are arranged in a wonderful, grid-based design. The overall color tone is extremely handsome as the original colors of the cotton have faded to an overall soft, quiet field of greens, pinks, maizes and dull whites. Really lovely.
An exceptionally distressed ralli, and a very beautiful one.