A Strange and Wonderful Small Ralli: Recycled Cottons
ca. mid twentieth century
40" x 15 1/2", 101.5 cm x 39.5 cm
A ralli is a quilt made from layers of discarded cloth and configured into a multitude of traditional patterns. Rallis
hail from Sindh, Pakistan, a southern area that is contiguous to the
Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where some of these
quilts are also sewn. Lines and lines of running stitch secure and
strengthen the layers of cloth that make a ralli.
A ralli is used as a bed cover for a 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.
In this case, this ralli is narrow and may have been--or not--part of a larger piece. In any case, it is fantastically interesting for its contrast of the pieced, traditional border and the strange,printed cotton cloth which is framed by the traditional blocks of cotton. The orange scalloped border around the central cotton fragment is partially machine stitched to the base cloth.
The back of this ralli is really worth noting, and often times the proper backs of rallis are more interesting than the proper fronts.
The back is stitched from leftover bandhani or tie-dyed cotton which was probably dyed in madder. There are many pieces of cotton that are hand stitched together to create this subtle patchwork, and the result is beautiful.
This is a very unusual--and somehow very beautiful--ralli. A study in contrasts.