Mystery Quilt of a different kind

I have a quilt in the shoppe for  a few days now that is one of a kind as far as I can tell.   The customer who brought it in says it was given to her organization as a donation and they wanted to know more about it before deciding what to do with it.    Of course there was no information at all.    Now most of the time I can pretty much tell right away the basics,  when and sometimes where it may have been made,  style, any content that might be significant,  even answer the How did they do that question.    I’ve seen plenty of quilts in person and more in photos and enjoy being able to inform the owners about their quilt.    This one has me questioning.


Mystery Quilt front

So this is the front.   The round embroideries appear to me to be South American, and  the colors of the folded patchwork support this thought.   But pandas?  and upside down dragons?   And that poor panda at the bottom has an arm and leg detached from it’s body.     The black frogs are pockets.    Very odd.    The fabrics are all kinds, even some with metallic threads,  rip stop nylon,  some might even be gro-grain ribbon.    There is paper inside this quilt,  you can feel it crinkling,  and in a small space where there was a loose seam,  said paper seems to be a lightweight brown craft type.   ( Like you might use in packing ) It is all very strange.   The skill with which the folding was done varies throughout.     As I am wondering about all of this,  the owner turns it over and there are only more questions.


Mystery Quilt Back

SO this is the other side.  Once again it looks South American to me,  but what are those critters?   Are they spiders?  snakes?  Do they all have wings or is it just decoration?  some appear to have feelers.   They are stuffed hard,  so this was not a quilt to be used as a covering.    All the critters are hand stitched,  many from knit fabrics and all of this embroidery was done by hand with varying skill levels.  The patchwork is improvisational but does follow a plan.     I wonder at the idea of putting all this work into the back of a textile.    The dark blue that covers the edges and frames it all is done  unevenly and I can’t help the feeling that whoever did it just didn’t have a working knowledge of how to work with fabrics in this way.   There seems to be some minimal batting/stuffing in a few places, but not throughout the quilt, and it does not appear to be quilted or tied in any way.



Here’s a few closeups of each side.    If you have any ideas about this one I’d love to hear them.

We have regular hours this week even though the local schools are on break,  and Saturday the 20th is Crazy Quilt Club.   I am hoping that some of my quilters who work in the school system can join us Wednesday for WIP Wednesday.     I might still have this Mystery quilt in shoppe so you could see it in person.




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2 Responses to Mystery Quilt of a different kind

  1. Susan Leone says:

    I have a similiar quilt that I bought when we lived in Shandaken NY. I was the winning bidder at an auction one Saturday night. I too have no idea of it’s origins. Similiar construction, similiar designs. Except for one I came across here in NJ at a Goodwill Store, yours is only the third one I’ve ever seen. I would be glad to send you a few pictures if you like.

    • Susan, since I posted this, I have heard from Bill Volckening, who shared an album of similar quilts on his Facebook feed. They are from Badaling China, near Bejing. Made in the last two decades for the tourist trade. It explains the pandas. I shared his post onto my page if you want to see more of them. I now find myself wondering about the iconography. -Diana

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