Kowdi is a traditional art of quilting in Karnataka. BuDa Folklore is working with quilt artisans from rural town in the Uttara Kannada region. This traditional method of quilting makes use of waste old cloth pieces and cotton scrap cloths collected from tailors, friends and relatives.
The artisans also tell a story about the historical and cultural context of their creation through different motifs and rituals. We at BuDa Folklore documented the quilting tradition of Uttar Kannada as a part of our research and documentation. To gift a quilt, sewn with old clothes of the family, for the daughter who gets married, often carries fond memories of the maternal home.
The rural women of Uttara Kannada region are the collective contributors and partners with BuDa Folklore in reviving this age-old traditional art of quilting.
BuDa folklore is not only reviving and providing livelihood to the rural women of this region, it is also building a learning community among the urban people and bringing awareness of this traditional hand-stitching techniques for the urban participants through workshops. We conduct quilting workshops every year. Participants come from all over India to learn this fast disappearing art. This workshop is also available for school children to appreciate this age-old tradition.
Through this reviving process, BuDa gave life to a platform for many Kowdi artisans of the village now known as “Lyaavi - Kowdhi Collective”. These quilt products are sold at our center as well as our online BuDa Shop, at exhibitions and during workshops.
Lyaavi - Kowdi Collective is an artisan centred initiative that generates income for the local people as a means for comprehensive development. Our aim is to build an economically sustainable and socially empowered community for local hand-quilters. We aim to provide knowledge and skills directly relevant to the artisan’s traditional art to enable market appropriate innovation, while honoring and strengthening the tradition.
The trust at BuDa hires local staff to operate this project, which we hope to expand and include literary & health care education, a resource centre, production unit, Kowdi museum, shop and guest house. This will also include structures that adopt traditional architecture for contemporary function. A model for community development so that the centre is locally managed.
Our infrastructure will act as a community centre for the artisans as well as a place for students, researchers and designers to understand the culture of this age old tradition of quilting. We hope to create these centres within a context of a variety of vernacular architectural styles. Visiting art and design experts from India and around the world will get to work with a local permanent faculty to teach artisans design development and modern trends & markets.
The rural women may not have much formal education, but the one skill they possess is hand-stitched quilting. With the help of our organisation, many of these women now have the opportunity to put this skill to good use and generate additional household income. This is empowering them, and changing the very fabric of their lives.
Through the training and workshop period, the artisans learn to use finer and neater stitches for a better finish. They also learn to make various products according to modern needs, producing and marketing products like handbags, cushion covers, pouches, curtain panels, dupattas, table mats and runners’ accessories and home furnishings.
We have been working closely with the village women for over 15 years. Most of the quilters from the villages are 50 years or more and every house in these small settlements will have at least one quilter who is keeping this tradition alive. They are from the different communities including scheduled casts and nomadic tribes.
Nirmalakka is a master artisan who has been associated with BuDa Folklore for over a decade. Her rustic and traditional quilt making techniques mixed with cloth-based narratives passed down from generations is very popular. In January 2019, she was honoured at the International Quilt Festival in Chennai where she was able to showcase her skill and talent as a special guest. She is not only an extraordinary facilitator & artisan, but she is also an entrepreneur & a community leader.
Kalavva has been working with us at BuDa since the last 8 years. She is from the scheduled casts of the region and a widow, the only means of income for her is through quilting. Through our observation, we noticed that over a period of time, she learnt to use finer and neater stitches for a better finish. She is also one of the quilting teachers who travels with us to teach this art to urban participants at workshops, exhibitions and various events.