Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

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

19th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, darning, running, fern, dot, eye, and seed stitches

31 x 30 inches (78.7 x 76.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Three objects cluster at the upper left of the central square of this kantha: a kula (U-shaped rice-winnowing tray), a dheki (long foot-pumped grain thresher), and what is likely a stalk of rice. In rural Bengal, winnowing and threshing were most often women's work. The common and auspicious kula plays a major role in Bengali rituals, from rites to bring rain to those surrounding marriage and children. The dheki also had a role in traditional weddings. In the border to the left, a blue Shiva linga (the rounded pillar that is the mark of this god) is set below hanging lamps within a curve-roof structure with overhanging eaves and sconces projecting at the sides. This shrine resembles the famous Shiva temple at Tarakeshwar near Kolkata (Calcutta), a major pilgrimage site for infertile women.