Quilting and quilts have long been important parts of communities and cultures worldwide. And they also tell stories. They are a living heritage of traditional stitching techniques, showcasing a narrative of the communities that stitch them by hand. Quilts have mostly been made by women in each community. India has a rich and varied quilting tradition that can be traced back across centuries. Different regions have their own style. There is the sujani embroidery on quilts of Bihar and Gujarat, the running stitch of kantha in Bengal, Jahrkhand's ledra, and more.
Kowdhi (also known as kaudi, koudi, and kowdi) is a traditional Karnataka quilting technique practised by the women in northern Karnataka who use this patchwork quilting practice for home use. A kowdhi quilt is constructed by repurposing old cloth, often a combination of patterned and plain pieces. BuDa Folklore, an organisation dedicated to folklore research and folk culture, based in Honnavar, Uttara Kannada, has been working with kowdhi artisans from villages in the region.
These traditional hand-stitched quilts are made of recycled materials. "The way recycled fabrics are put together with thousands of delicate flowing stitches makes the quits exceptional," says Savita Uday, the founding director of BuDa Folklore. "A kowdhi quilt is generally made up of seven layers of recycled fabric that have been stitched together with thousands of small running stitches". Each cloth has been hand-washed before the quits are made. Through various motifs, the artists also communicate a story about the historical and cultural context of the quilts.
From time to time, BuDa Folklore hosts workshops in urban areas like Bengaluru to generate awareness about the art of kowdhi, and to also build a learning community among urban people.
You can pick up quilts at pop-up events such as exhibitions and during workshops. In order to place orders, you can reach out on their email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about BuDa Folklore in our article on their other initiatives here.