Ralli—-A Centuries Old Sindhi Tradition

Sindh or Indus Civilization is one of the oldest of the world. Findings at Moenjodaro show that Sindh was the cradle of knowledge and was one of the most developed civilizations around 2500BC. That is why Sindh boasts of such rich, colorful heritage and traditions which become an essential part of Pakistani culture.

Ralli making is a centuries old tradition of Sindh. Ralli quilt making is an art which rural women of Sindh pass from generation to generation. Ralli quilts have intricate geometric designs and are brightly colored. Ralli quilts are totally made by hand. That is why each piece or ralli quilt is a piece of art which shows the love, care and dedication of the woman that has created it. It is an extension of her creativity.Traditionally, ralli work was only limited to quilt making, bags and also served as a sort of carpet; but as it is gaining popularity on international level, ralli work has found many new uses; table cloths, bed spreads, shalwar kameez and many more.

Traditionally ralli quilts were stitched using pieces of old and new fabric. Layers of old fabric were stitched together to form a light quilt and then the top layer of old fabric was covered with the patch work of new fabric in usually black, green, red and white colors, but these days all new fabric is also used and a number of colors have found their way in the ralli quilts. Tie dye and ajrak prints are also used extensively. Even now, rural women of Sindh can be seen sitting together on the floor with the ralli spread in front chatting and working together.Traditionally, the more the bride had rallis in her dowry, the richer she was thought to be.

Ralli work has a few variations. In the first method, brightly colored fabric pieces are cut into various geometric shapes and are then stitched together in a design creating a beautiful patch work quilt. In the second method, applique’ of plain colored fabric is stitched over a printed fabric or a different color in the form of cut work design. Sometimes both methods are used together creatively. Various embellishments like certain amount of hand embroidery, tassles, sitara work and tassels are also used to further enhance the wonderful effect.