Sunday, October 1, 2006

Quilt Folklore

The Log Cabin quilt (c. 1870s) shown in the above photo is showing the wear of 150 years. The Log Cabin quilt (alternatively called the Courthouse Steps) traditionally has a center of a different color. Folklore has it that if the center square of the panel is yellow that indicates a light in the home (imagine riding across the prairie and seeing a light in the window of your home). Red in the center signifies the hearth of a home and a black square indicates a ‘safe house’ or home owner who was sympathetic to the Underground Railroad, an organization that helped those fleeing slavery. Since not everyone could read and write in those days, it was often necessary to communicate by other means. By hanging a quilt with a black center square over a washing line, a bush or veranda, a traveler could see at a glance whether a particular home would welcome them and give them safe harbor.