‘Teduki’ stems from the Dutch ‘theedoek’ and is typically a patterned dishtowel.
Curaçao’s version is a single-layered quilt of recycled remnant fabric from old clothing and head scarves patched together by our resourceful mothers, grandmothers, aunts and yayas (beloved nannies). Its seams stitched back meticulously by hand, to prevent hard work from coming undone. The tradition is passed down through generations.
Teduki was part of the family; large ones were used to cover up during chilly nights and small ones for covering up freshly laundered clothes or to wrap warm pots (then, called ‘tapá’ or ‘pimpi’) when bringing food to the neighbor’s house. Daughters would sport colorful Teduki skirts to school.
Unfortunately we’ve mostly forgotten about this beautiful tradition in our shiny new era of trade and automation. We hardly see Teduki except for the title of Guillermo Rosario’s novel ‘Marina, e Yu’i Teduki’ (referring to a child born with siblings of different fathers) there’s no mention of ‘Teduki’ in our literature.
A group of 45 women set out to bring our Teduki back in 2010, participating in an exposition called ‘Teduki na Kaminda’, commemorating our matriarchal tradition and marking the birth of the nation of Curaçao. They made 10 large (bed-sized) Teduki and included a timeline recording historical events and accomplishments (from the Arawaks to 2010). The exposition evoked ‘it takes a village’ moving to several different public places over the course of 4 months (libraries, banks, hospitals, supermarkets), re-introducing us to the Teduki.
Fundashon Mami Sa (Foundation Mother Knows Best) picked up the idea, incorporating ‘Teduki making’ workshops in their curriculum for young single mothers, allowing them to take pride in their creativity while making extra money selling their craft. Mami Sa collects donated remnant fabric, used cotton clothes and adds a modern twist with the help of sewing machines. Mami Sa’s Tedukis mirror our bright equatorial sun, blue skies, the colors of our trupial, blenchi, flamboyán and tuturutu, our colorful architecture, and the easy smiles of our boisterous mixed-and-matched patchwork population. Mami Sa’s Tedukis are used as tablecloths, lunchbox and wine bottle wrappers, wall art, picnic blankets, they can be anything you want them to be, really. For more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +5999 5627657.
Special thanks to Elsbeth Kooyman (Fundashon Mami Sa volunteer) for this beautiful submission!
Fundashon Mami Sa wants to bring structure to the lives of young, single mothers and their children. Mothers are taught intellectual and practical skills (how to manage a budget, grow vegetables, cook healthy meals) as well as develop more self-esteem. Mothers and their children attend a 2-year day program and are monitored for a third year. The foundation aims to get single mothers to a point where they can support themselves and their children.