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Greek Quilt

  • Owner:
    Irini Repaci
  • Location:
  • Maker:
  • Pattern:
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 200
    Width: 146


The quilt was given to Irini by her mother Despina in the early 1950s to be part of her dowry. It is still owned by Irini. It is sometimes used as a portable mattress for the babies. "Five Quilts From Ikaria - These two quilts, owned by Irini Repaci and Nellie Magloveris, are part of the order for five quilts which their mother, Despina, gave to the local mattress-maker on the tiny Greek island of Ikaria, in the early 1950s; one quilt for each of her four daughters and one for herself. This was to be the girls' dowry, made especially to order for the 'great trek' to Australia and hopefully for her daughters to take into their marriages.
The cotton fabric used is in three colous, pink, yellow, orange and each quilt is a combination of two of these colours. The quilts are padded with raw cotton, grown on the island by Irini and Nellie's grandmother Kalliope. Although Ikaria is not a natural cotton growing area, Kalliope somehow managed it, having learnt many skills from a time of working in Egypt. For whatever reason, Ikaria seems not to have such a strong dowry tradition, as in most other parts of Greece, so Despina's order placed with the 'mattress man' was somewhat unusual for that small island community. But the order was duly completed and the quilts eventually travelled to Australia. When the family arrived at Sydney airport, the Customs officials, circa 1954, decided that out of all the luggage, one particular trunk looked suspicious and within the few minutes that Despina was away attending to one of the children, they smashed it open, only to find it jam packed with the five new quilts.
The quilts have been much used and much loved in the various families. Irini has three children: Natasha, Marrianna and Vince, as does Nellie: Ali, Danny and Christine. Both women tell stories of their 'paploma' being part of their lives as young women, travelling with them through marriage, new babies, toddlers, and still today, occasionally being called into service! But for both Irini and Nellie, these quilts speak more deeply of their mother, and the extraordinary difficulties she has overcome as part of her life's journey: the turmoil and havoc wrought by the Second World War and the civil war in Greece, coming to Australia alone with her four daughters aged from eight to three years (her husband had come earlier) and then having her son here; the many years of very hard work and her struggle to learn English and be part of her children's life outside, as well as inside, the home. These quilts are symbolic of the tribute they pay to her."
[Written by Lula Saunders, adapted from interview 3 November 1998, for the National Quilt Register]


Cotton material, pink one side and orange the other. Hand quilting is in a geometric pattern in parallel lines. Padding is raw cotton.
2000 x 1460 mm

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