hotte thumbisodu

siddi textiles of care

Saidambi Naik, Husenbi Jamadar, Fathimbi Yaragatti, Maimunbi Mujavar, Shakirambi Naika, Fatimabi Devkari, Hajarambi Mandvekar, Ashabi Jamadar, Husenbi Sattarasab Jamadar, Haniphabi Gunjavati, Hattarabi Gunjavati, Hasina J Gunjavati, Basobi Jamadar, Bibanabi Katwal, Bibijan Chapparkar, Maimunbi Mujavar, Rajamabi Mujavar, Chandabi Desai, Bastin Diggekar in collaboration with Anitha N. Reddy
14. Sep 2023 - 28 oct. 2023

Untitled Work (2023) 135 x 235 cms ©Saidambi Naik / Anitha N. Reddy / Gallery UTMT


Gallery Under The Mango Tree is humbled and honored to announce the exhibition ‚hotte thumbisodu – Siddi Textiles of Care’ on display from September 15th until October 28th, 2023. The rooms of the gallery will showcase around 20 unique, multicolored, handmade quilts made from recycled cloth, highlighting the incredible creativity and skill of about 20 women from the Afro-Indian Siddi community of North Karnataka, India. The exhibition allows for a deeper exploration of the quilts after four pieces were displayed in the House of World Cultures (HKW) Exhibition „O Quilombismo“ (2023), which will still be open until September 17th. The title of the exhibition follows a Kannada saying that literally translates to a call for abundance, exclaiming, ‘hotte thumbisodu’ (‘May your belly be full’)  the women pay homage to, when sealing their quilts with the last stitch, adding a few grains of rice between the layers of textile.

The Siddi community has a unique migration story, leading from the coast of East Africa to the coast of contemporary Western India. While some arrived as sailors, mercenaries, and aristocrats, others arrived as people who were enslaved. Today, Siddi people live assimilated into Indian societies, but are often found at the margins of urban contexts such as forests, leading to a lack of awareness of their rich cultural heritage, of which the quilts are one fragment.

The quilting techniques are primarily a symbol of (unpaid) care produced by collecting aged clothing over multiple years. The exhibits will show three sizes of these quilts representing the circularity of life, beginning with a selection of quilts for a newborn, progressing through the single bed covers onto the oversized quilt produced for a family. The installation of the works will follow art historian Anitha N. Reddy’s encounters with these quilts in the villages, often seeing them draped over or hanging from a wall or tree, to be aired out.

Gallery Under the Mango Tree is proud to present the works of the Women of the Siddi Community, orchestrated in collaboration with a Bangalore based art historian Anita N. Reddy. 

There are grids of colored patches of textiles, out of the box patterns and somewhere solitary wandering irregular squares, and complimenting bands on the edge-lest the dreams fall off, oddly reminiscent of the pixels when low-resolution pictures are made large. But here the seemingly irregular visual noise resolves into clusters of pattern, rows of symbols and mysterious signs.

Largely they seem to be a map of memories where each domestic day has been recorded to be decoded, perhaps by the coming generations; one goes from one color to another, passes through a passage, taking little steps for nothing more than the pleasure of losing oneself in their different yet inseparable complexity. One lets oneself freely wander on these memory maps of the other; so, we hopefully connect.

It is hard to describe the exhibited Quilts; as memory mosaics, as landscapes of feelings, a piece of abstract art, or uncoded theme designed for flexibility, and performance of the community that came to India from Africa centuries ago and is still waiting on the edge of being accepted? No metaphors can ever sum up these artworks, each one is a small part of the larger idea of inclusiveness of a society brought together with the effort of an Indian art historian, Anitha N. Reddy. Through Anitha N. Reddy’s close work with the Siddi community women since 2007, she has continuously built up trusted relations with these women and hence created the possibility for them to not only become financially independent, but also find acknowledgement for their community.

The unique abstract language with African and Indian influences with a distinctive character, which passes through all the works, each quilt is done by one individual woman over a few months. Each work demonstrates color relativity, gradation, intensity, and temperature, vibrating and vanishing boundaries and reversed grounds. As the material used in the quilts originally was usually clothing that has been worn by a family member, the quilts held within them the private and unique story of the makers’ life, their families and their community.

While Siddi women are now changing for the better, a few good old things still remain the same. Just before they put in their last stitches, the women continue to insert a few grains of rice under the final layer as a symbolic gesture of prosperity for the quilt owner. A practice described as a Kannada saying,“hotte thumbisodu” (´May your belly be full`) *

Observe the ravishing multicolored works, and you can see how each individual woman transforms the old pieces of textiles gathered over a time into a form that permits a connection between the world and those living on the sidelines of the society. This is the space where this expanded concept of art leads to be a “social sculpture” as Joseph Beuys would put it. Isn’t It?

Creativity belongs to everyone, and the concept of art applies to human work in general.** This exhibition arguments about shape, color, medium and scale, by allowing the extensive possibilities of color, form, line and at the same time enables the viewer to evaluate the merits of the different approaches. This exhibit surveys the human work of Siddi women who invested all their emotional faculties for their families and is ruled by the principle of resurgence: the old form must be transformed into a living, pulsating shape that cultivates life, soul, and spirit***of inclusiveness, thereby asserting that human dignity is most essential and priceless.

*Rajshree Balaram
**, *** Heiner Stachelhaus, Joseph Beuys -The expanded concept of Art.

Text by Mini Kapur 

Anitha N. Reddy is a dynamic community-based textile art practitioner, curator, and dedicated researcher hailing from Bangalore, Karnataka. Her journey has been an inspiring exploration of merging artistic expression with social empowerment. Blurring the boundaries between art and craft, her pursuit is of elevating craft practices within the contemporary art scene. Her educational background is the foundation upon which she’s built her impactful career, overcoming societal constraints to embrace the fringes of society, and channeling artistic expression to empower marginalized individuals. Anitha N Reddy’s impact is far-reaching, culminating in accolades like the Karun Thakar Project Grant, 2022-23, instituted by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Opening Hours
Mo-Fr 11:30-14:00 / 15:30-18:30
Sa/So 13:00 – 16:30

Untitled Work (2023) 132 x 225 cms
© Husenbi Jamadar / Anitha N. Reddy / Gallery UTMT

Exemplary Works

Untitled Work (2023) 135 x 235 cms
©Shakirambi Naika / Anitha N. Reddy / Gallery UTMT

Untitled Work (2023) 132,5 x 230 cms
©Maimunbi Mujavar / Anitha N. Reddy, Gallery UTMT

Untitled Work (2023) 145 x 235 cms
©Hattarabi Gunjavati / Anitha N. Reddy/ Gallery UTMT

Untitled Work (2023) 135 x 235 cms
©Fathimbi yaragatti / Anitha N. Reddy/ Gallery UTMT