Our challenge word was “passage”.
Two hundred years ago, my ancestors were kidnapped, imprisoned, removed from their homelands and, bewildered and terrified; were chained to rough boards stacked 14 inches apart in the hot, filthy, stench and disease-filled hulls of the slave ships that travelled from the West Coast of Africa to the colonies in the West Indies and the Americas. This is known as “The Middle Passage” – the middle leg of the transatlantic trade triangle that my ancestors survived, allowing me to make this post today.
For the background of my quilt I chose strips of black fabrics: wool, cotton, satin, silk – many textures and shades to represent the many different shades and cultures of the black-skinned people who were brought in chains to the New World.
I chose a variety of earth-toned fabrics to represent the countries on the continent of Africa and overlaid those countries with gold netting to represent the riches – gold, diamonds, precious metals, gemstones and oil – and then shredded and tore that netting to show how those treasures were ripped from the ground of those countries.
The countries from which the human treasure was most often stolen have red beads sewn on them -representing the blood of the millions of Africans who died while being captured, died during the passage, died on the way to market, or died as slaves.
The chains that run from the coast of Africa through the ocean are the chains that bound my ancestors; but also represent the invisible chains that bound them to their homelands, me to them, their passage, and their and my history from which I have been cut off; yet to which I am still bound, in that unknown country from which I came.
This was a quilt that wanted to be made by me, although I didn’t know it – and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to do so.
More details of the quilt can be seen at divaquilts.com