Saturday, May 29, 2010

Akha Hill Tribe Textiles

In 1994 (and many other years) I attended the Quilt/Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio.  During a trip to a local bead and ethnic craft shop, Byzantium, I purchased this bag (sometimes referred to as a loincloth), made by the Akha Hill Tribe people of Thailand.  I was really taken by the simple, clean design, funky embellishments, and the workmanship.

After hours in one of my classes that week, I started an improvisational quilt based on the Akha bag.  The result, several months later, was Hill Tribe (67" w x 71" h).

The quilt was successful, I think, and was exhibited at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Anchorage, Alaska, in 1995; at The Gallery at Studio B, Lancaster, Ohio, in 1996; and at the Invitational 1997, Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Columbus Ohio, in 1997.  At one point the American Craft Museum requested it for consideration for their permanent collection.  It didn't make the cut, and was returned to me after about a year, but I felt honored at their unsolicited request and consideration.  The quilt has found its permanent (for now, anyway) home in my dining room.
This quilt (and, of course, Nancy Crow's Improvisations class) started me on my exploration of Thai textiles, as well as improvisational design.  From 1995 to as recently as 2007, I have created a series of quilts, my Hill Tribe Series, based on Akha textiles, colors and mood.  See my website for photos of other quilts in this series.  I was on the lookout for these Thai textiles, and purchased several more in Columbus and some in Anchorage, Alaska.
In the spring of 2002 I had the good fortune to visit the source of my inspiration - an Akha Hill Tribe village near Chiang Rai, Thailand.  I purchased several more purse/loincloths, several hats, and even some "quilts".  The quilts are pieced from worn clothing, and embellished with embroidery and beading.  I believe these are all Akha textiles, although I'm no expert.  Some may be from neighboring tribes.  All are wonderful!
So here are some of my loincloth/purses.

Hats next time!


  1. These are so wonderful. I find indigenous textiles from around the world very inspiring. Thanks for sharing your collection!