Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

A central flower surrounded by pinwheel patterns is centered between three men on the right and four women on the left.

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Geography:
Made in Khulna District, Bangladesh, Asia
or India, Asia
Made in Undivided Bengal, Asia

Date:
Late 19th century

Medium:
Cotton plain weave with cotton and silk embroidery in back, running, seed, buttonhole, dot, and darning stitches

Dimensions:
7 1/2 x 24 inches (19.1 x 61.0 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1994-148-683

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Label:
Small, rectangular kanthas like this are usually called arshilatas (mirror-covers) although they served a wider range of functions. The mirror is important in Bengali marriage rites not only as one of the bride's personal objects, but also because the groom holds one in his hand through parts of the ceremony. The seven figures on this piece-three men in short jackets and formal dhotis (lower garments) with decorative pleating, two holding stalks of grain, and four women in variously patterned saris-all raise their right arms to perform a group dance on the occasion of a wedding or agricultural celebration. Some of the embroidery in this piece is done in silk thread, something rarely found in historical kanthas.