Mennonite Quilt

early 20th century


Height x width: 79 x 74 in. (200.7 x 188 cm)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Quilted cotton plain weave

Not On View


Americas, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Cotton striped Mennonite quilt consisting of 28 long joined strips of woven cotton in shades of red, yellow, green, brown, and black, backed with a floral printed maroon cotton and brought around to form the thin border, each strip has leaf, undulating wave, crenellated, diamond, sawtooth, chain, or shell quilting stitches. Pattern is a variation of the bars pattern, known as the “Rainbow” or “Joseph’s Coat.”

Mennonite quilts, and those of their more conservative brethren, the Amish, are generally distinguished by subtle colors and simple, abstracted designs. Their minimalist construction eschews the complicated and ostentatious decoration typical of “Anglo” quilts, and embody the tenets of the Anabaptist religion-simplicity, humility, and obedience to the Church. Intricate, yet subtle quilting stitches in wave, diamond, saw tooth, shell, and chain patterns, alternate here within each colored strip. The distinctive and striking composition is a variation of the traditional “bars” pattern, known as the “Rainbow” or “Joseph’s Coat”, in reference to the Old Testament bible story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.


Purchased at Skinner, Inc. in Boston, MA by MFA on March 21, 2007

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated from the Estate of Gretchen Stone Cook