A Subtle and Beautifully Worn Square Ralli: Layers and Vestiges of Old Stitching
ca. mid twentieth century
31 1/4" x 34", 79.3 cm x 86.4 cm
A ralli is a quilted textile 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
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 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.
This small-sized, square-shaped ralli may have been used for a sitting mat; it is stitched from layers of repurposed cotton cloth. The proper front is designed around a large, central square of small checked blue cotton which shows a great deal of wear and mending. The border shows a orange on cream floral pattern which seems to have been taken from a commercial fabric as there seems to be some kind of company name worked into the repeat.
The back is a beautiful, cropped block printed fabric, very worn, and very beautiful in the way that you can see the under layers of cloth through the top layer, which has been abraded away from years of use. Additionally, pay special attention to the decorative stitching which can been seen on this side of the fabric on the detail shots which accompany this post. Along with the running stitches which hold this piece together, you will see passages of decorative stitching that were hand applied in a former avatar of the life of this recycled, layered, boro cloth. A lovely subtle detail.
For another view of this minimalist ralli, please have a look at a blog post which shows this cloth in the context of an interior environment.
Subtle, sophisticated and earthy.