Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hawaiian Quilts

These are more pics of from the Polynesian Culture Center. I don't know why the wedding ring was displayed on the bed. I have been reading articles on the internet about Hawaiian quilting. A traditional Hawaiian quilt has four elements: whole cloth background, a one piece appliqued design that is made by folding a pattern into quarters or eights, use of solid colors for the design and background and echo quilting. The history is so interesting. It is so different for me to think that since the quilts were not needed for warmth, they were artistic expressions. Since they already used decorated whole cloth, made from tree bark, for their clothing, when the missionaries brought them woven fabric, they continued using it as whole cloth. This didn't leave any fabric scraps for making patchwork. Their quilts reflected the mores of the culture; it was taboo to copy another person's pattern. Quilting was not a group project but a very personal expression. The work was hidden in the home until the quilt was completed. The quilt name included the quilter's name. Example: Aunt Lily's Turtles. The quilters spirit was in the quilt. Slits in the design allowed her spirit to travel in and out. It was the custom when the quilter died for the quilt to either be burned to buried with the quilter so her total spirit could pass on. This practice plus the humid climate, which was destructive to the old quilts, has limited the number of old quilts saved. Many of the elaborate quilts were given to royalty and some of these were preserved. I saw some in a museum but was unable to take pictures. While the quilt pattern was the unique design of the maker, it also reflected the plants, animals, land and water of the islands. The echo quilting shows the waves all around the islands. It was a tradition for the first work of a quilter to be the breadfruit, which was an original food of the islands. Quilting became a political statement when the United States overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani (the ' symbol indicates a pause in the pronunciation) in 1893. Symbols of the monarchy, including the Hawaiian flag were quilted onto the quilt backs, thus expressed yet hidden. Traditionally Hawaiian quilts were not sold but given away.
Reference for the information in this blog is from several sites including Hawaiian Quilting From Honu Hale.
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Dawn said...

I"ve always loved the look of hawaiian quilts. I have one real wall size one I bought a few years ago, and I made one block but have yet to get it quilted! They a really are works of art!

Rose Marie said...

Thank you for giving a bit of history behind the Hawaiian quilts. They are so beautiful and I've admired them whenever they are shown in magazines!