International Quilt Museum


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Paper presented at the the Fourth Biennial Symposium, "The Global Quilt: Cultural Contexts," April 2-4, 2009. Copyright (c) 2009 Patrick J. Finn.


The arrival of the Portuguese in India at the end of 15th century marks the beginning of a significant period of bilateral cultural exchange of quilting concepts, designs and techniques. As early as the 4th century BCE, India had developed a rich and varied textile tradition recognized internationally. Subsequent to the Portuguese opening the trade route around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498, many Europeans voyaged to India in search of trade opportunities. However, it was the Portuguese who initially explored the potential of Indian embroidered textiles, including quilts. “It was their familiarity with Islamic and Judaic culture which enabled the new arrivals to interact with the local elite and access the sophisticated production of the karkhanas (royal workshops.)” The intent of this paper is to examine the mutual exchange of design concepts, motifs and techniques evidenced in both Indian domestic quiltmaking and the quilts made in India for colonial offshore markets. This paper also surveys the origins of design, the techniques employed and the context in which the quilts were produced. The Europeans produced quilts not only at Satgaon, but also other locations on the subcontinent. This paper investigates these locations and their quilts types in hopes of better identifying the few remaining examples in collections worldwide.

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