Hawaiian Quilts

Modern example of an Hawaiian quilt Modern example of an Hawaiian quilt

Hawaiian quilts represent an appliqué and quilting style that was developed by indigenous Hawaiians. It may reflect older kapa (bark cloth) traditions. Hawaiian quilts characteristically have a central design that is cut out of a piece of cloth that has been folded into halves, quarters or eighths. The thus created radiating design it is stitched onto the white top cloth of the quilt, with echo quilting around the cloth's edges.  

Quilting is said to have been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1820, when royal wives were invited on board the US ship Thaddeus and given a demonstration. Quilting, and the fabrics used for quilting, spread throughout the 1800's as Hawaiian women were taught needlework by American Christian missionaries.

In traditional Hawaiian belief, the quilt absorbs some of the essence of the quilter. It is therefore regarded as disrespectful to sit on a quilt, as this insults the quilter’s spirit. In addition, a quilt’s design should not include human figures, as these will visit the person sleeping under the quilt at night. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, on Oahu, Hawaii, houses an important collection of Hawaiian quilts.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 7 July 2016).


Last modified on Saturday, 25 February 2017 20:06
More in this category: « Murrumbidgee Blanket Tifaifai »