Rilli-Reviving an age-old craft

The art of rilli has been perfected through the generations by women in parts of Sindh and Punjab. This intricate craft involves cutting patterns from cloth and then hand-stitching them onto fabric, making not only a beautiful design, but also a unique work of art entirely by hand. The motifs used are traditionally inspired by nature and patterns inherent to the Indus Valley Civilization, which includes patterns with paisleys, stars and geometric designs. Carvings which have been found in desert tombs of Sindh and Balochistan dated from the mid-15th century, have had similar patterns, showing the profound impact of history on this traditional craft. These inspiring women artisans actually have pattern troves in their memories which they swiftly replicate either as gifts during weddings, for daily use or to earn a sustainable livelihood from the craft.

With the current commercialization of the craft of Rilli, we have seen a great drop in the quality of the workmanship, in the hopes of creating pieces faster and giving the artisans less and less for their efforts. It is important to ensure that the women behind this timeless art are getting their fair share of these profits and also partake in skills enhancement rather than a depletion of their skill set for the sake sales. Marketing of this craft needs to involve an appreciation of the time and effort it has taken to create one Rilli shirt by the woman artisan who is carrying on the traditions of our land as well as who has every right to earn a fair income from her labour.

Adorn supports the work of Indus Resource Centre (IRC) in Khairpur which ensures women access to health, education, skills training and income generation, a more holistic approach to poverty alleviation. Adorn intervenes through providing IRC and other artisan clusters with specific designs, patterns and color schemes, in order to cater to current market demands. The quality of Rilli being produced has thus been enhanced, ensuring future sales and growth. Help support these worthy and ethical projects with your next purchase at Adorn and help preserve the traditional arts of our region by encouraging women to continue this timeless craft.www.adornonline.org