Ralli: The traditional Sindhi quilt

culture   Mar 22, 2020

You can breeze through as many imported collections of bedsheets and quilts as you want, but you won’t find anything as exquisite as the Sindhi ralli.
What is a ralli? It’s a traditional handmade quilt created by women in the rural parts of Sindh.

What’s so special about these quilts? 

They are made by stitching together different scraps and fabrics. What’s interesting is that most of these fabrics are of different colours, but are stitched together to form a unique pattern. And guess what, none of this is done by the help of a computer.

Photo Courtesy: Dost Pakistan

Ralli making has existed since hundreds of years and the creative patterns formed are works of art that women simply imagine in their heads and then bring to life by stitching different pieces of fabric together. Most of the time,  patterns and ideas are passed down from generation to generation – somewhat like a family legacy.

In fact, every ralli created reflects the personality of the artisan in some way – it is the creator’s canvas. Hence, some of the quilts are funky with bright colours like orange, green, yellow pink etc paired together. Whereas, there are also ralli samples that include sober shades such as white, grey, black, maroon etc. 

While many Pakistani’s don’t realise the importance of ralli making, the fact is, this skill is considered to be unique on international platforms. Hence, if you haven’t been paying attention to this Indus craft, its about time you realised its cultural importance.

The different ralli patterns

There are three styles of creating ralli’s: Patchwork, appliqué, and embroidery. While patchwork requires pieces of cloth cut in different shapes to be sown together, appliqué ralli’s are a step further in creativity since they include mirror work.

Embroidered quilts on the other hand include creative shapes as well as embroidery of animals and landscape.