Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Made in Jessore District, Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia

Second half of 19th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, darning, satin, running, single-sided, double running, and stem stitch filling stitches

41 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1968

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This densely quilted kantha may have been intended as a pillow cover. The diamond-based border motif is also used to outline the corner kalkas (paisley motifs), and even fills the stems of their whimsical floral projections. At center is a bold roundel formed of interlocking hexagons, configured as six-petaled flowers, each petal shaped like a long grain of rice. Encircling birds peck at these ricelike grains as if consuming the remains of ritual offerings. The hexagon-roundel is commonly found in alpanas (ritual rice-paste floor paintings) and other ephemeral women's arts throughout Bengal.