Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Geography:
Made in Faridpur District, Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia

Date:
1875

Medium:
Plain weave cotton with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, darning, satin, split, running, eye, and dot stitches

Dimensions:
31 1/4 x 29 inches (79.4 x 73.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

* Gallery 227, Asian Art, second floor (Wood Gallery)

Accession Number:
1968-184-8

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1968

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Label:
Scenes from the Ramayana intertwine with the story of the Bengali snake goddess Manasa on this early kantha. The goddess, portrayed as a snake-flanked water pot at lower left, is both benevolent (she protects from snakebites) and malicious (she unleashes her snakes and inflicts deadly venom). When Manasa was denied worship by a wealthy landholder, she killed each of his sons on their wedding nights. When his youngest son married, the landholder built a house of iron to protect him, but Manasa’s snakes wiggled though a hole in the wall, as depicted at lower right. The valiant widow Behula takes her husband’s body on a river odyssey to visit the god Shiva who successfully resurrects all four brothers.


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