Globe image showing African & Asia
Globe image showing North & South America

Welcome to Quilt Ethnic!

Quilting and/or fiber related art, craft and textile traditions of diverse ethnic groups
from contemporary, traditional and/or historical perspectives

November 2002 Highlights

Discovering Mud Cloth


Don’t skip the intro…get prepared for a lot of information and a lot of fun. Developed by the Smithsonian, this site first introduces you to Nakunte Diarra, one of the most respected artisans who creates mud-dyed cloth using bogolanfini techniques learned from her grandmother.


Next, you are introduced to Chris Seydou, a fashion designer using mud cloth to create stunning contemporary fashions.


Finally, Ishmael Diabate is introduced, a painter who combines traditional mud cloth techniques with contemporary media to create contemporary visual mixed media and paintings.


And then…the fun really begins! Using virtual reality, you can create your own unique mud cloth from start to finish – then print it out.

Did You Know…?

  • The earliest known quilt is carved on an ivory figure of a Pharoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty about 3400 BC
  • The oldest surviving example of patchwork is a quilted Egyptian Canopy used by the queen for festive occasions in 980 BC. It now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
  • In 1924 archaeologists discovered a quilted floor covering in Mongolia dating back from first century BC to the second century AD
  • As early as the 1300’s, Mali warriors wore quilted suits of armor for protection in battle
  • In the Sudan, full quilted garments for both warriors and their horses were worn as protective armor in battle
  • Until the end of the 19th century, the Fulani calvary wore quilted cloaks (sometime decorated in patchwork) for warmth or ceremonial occasions. They would have been too cumbersome in battle. Under the cloaks, heavy quilted armor (made in several pieces to protect different parts of the body) was worn. These were worn over metal body armour or chainmail.
  • Between 1325 AD and 1521 AD, both the Aztecs and Mayans wore quilted cotton body armor (ichcahuipilli) that could withstand a direct arrow impact. The Spaniards were so impressed that they adopted it for their use as well.
  • The Smithsonian Institution indicated in its 1989 News Service publication that researchers believe the technique of appliqué originated in West Africa
  • Chikankari (very intricate shadow-work embroidery) in India dates back to the 3rd century BC
  • Batik originated in India and can be traced back as far as 2000 years
  • India has been renown for its printed and dyed cotton cloth since the 12th century
  • India first began trading palampores (printed cotton fabric – unglazed chintz) to Europe via Portuguese traders around 1498 – early exports to England (occurring a century later) included whole cloths of palampores already quilted to be used as padded coverlets
  • Quilting was brought to Europe from the Middle East by Crusaders in the 11th century
African Art
Fante of Ghana - Asafo Flags | Textiles & Symbols | Zulu Beadwork
African American Art
Art & Contemporary | Historical | Traditional
Asian Culture
Chinese | Hmong | Indian | Japanese | Korean | Tibetan | Afghanistan
Native American Culture
Hawaiians | Kuna of Panama (molas) | Mainland Tribes
Latin Culture / South American Culture Haitian Culture Aboriginal Culture
Australia / New Zealand