Soulful stitching: patchwork quilts by africans (siddis) of india

There are many African communities with rich artistic traditions scattered across this planet. We may be familiar with the history and artistry of African peoples and their descendants in the Americas, but we know little or nothing about Africans in other parts of the world...

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Kawandi: Quilts of Karnataka

My first encounter with Kawandi, the colourful, rhythmic quilts of southwestern India, brought a sense of wonder. The words alone—Tikelis, Siddis, Phulas, Ghats, Karnataka (say these words aloud)—brighten and syncopate the tongue. They transport a verbal aesthetic to what is already available visually from the many colours, shapes and stitches that make up a kawandi.

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SOULFUL STITCHING: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) of India


A few years ago, while researching African influences in India, the art historian Henry John Drewal was struck by the vivid beauty of a type of quilted bed covering that he found in a village home he stayed at in Karnataka.