Traditionally, rallis were made for family members to use, for weddings, dowries and special gifts. In the recent decades, women have started to use their skills in quilt making to earn money for themselves and their families.
Some commercial production of quilts uses womens’ sewing skill for quilts that are stitched at home and then sent to the market, particularly in western India. In both Pakistan and India, women’s sewing cooperatives have been organized to help facilitate both the production and sale of their beautiful handiwork.
One example of a cooperative is Lila Handicrafts Cooperative, formed from a group of Hindu women in a small village in the Thar Desert region of Sindh, Pakistan in 2004. What started as a family group with a handful of women has now expanded to over 200 quilters. The women use their profits to support first, a primary school for their children, and now a secondary school as the children have gotten older. In times of need, such as droughts or flooding, the money also sustains the families through these hardships.
The challenges of life there are many. In August 2011, torrential rains from the yearly monsoons caused terrible flooding that damaged or destroyed the homes of all the Lila quilters. (In the area, over 430 people were killed, 1.5 million homes were damaged and almost 9 million people were affected.) Roads were destroyed for months and food was scarce. From contact with the Santa Fe Folk Art Market, an NGO, SHINE Humanity, became aware of the plight of the Lila quilters and their families. A successful fund raiser was held in Santa Fe. For more information on their work, please see www.shinehumanity.org. This area of southern Sindh is also subject to droughts. In spring of 2014, severe drought caused death of many animals and a terrible shortage of food. Help is ongoing.
The rallis made by Lila Handicrafts have all the qualities of handmade folk art. They have creative designs, bright colors and may be slightly irregular in size or shape. The quilts are all cotton and can be gently spot cleaned or dry cleaned. The quilts come in different sizes: queen bed, twin bed, and child size. The top is hand pieced in a variety of designs. The back is a block print of various colors. As each of these pieces is hand crafted, each is unique.
As each product is a unique piece, those pictured here may or may not be available if they have already sold. If you are interested in buying a quilt or other item, please contact us with the size you want and we can show you what is available.