Costume and Textiles
Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)Made in Faridpur District, Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
Plain weave cotton with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, darning, satin, split, running, eye, and dot stitches
1968-184-8Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1968
LabelThe stitched Bengali-era date equivalent to 1875 makes this the earliest dated kantha known. Scenes from the epic Ramayana intertwine with episodes from the story of the Bengali snake goddess Manasa. Denied worship by the wealthy landholder Chand Sadagar, Manasa kills each of his sons on their wedding nights. When his final son, Lakinder, marries, Chand Sadagar builds a house of iron to protect him, but Manasa's snakes wiggle though a hole in the wall (bottom right). Lakinder's valiant widow Behula takes her husband's body on a river odyssey to visit the god Shiva who resurrects Lakinder and his brothers. Manasa is embodied as a snake-flanked water pot (lower left) while the cross-legged man on a dais (top center) may be Chand Sadagar.
* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.