Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
This charmingly intricate kantha highlights elaborate scenes of urban pleasures including two babus embracing their courtesan companions (lower panel). Similar couples enjoy a jaunt in a pleasure boat, its snake-eating peacock prow with whimsically dangling legs (top border). Others appreciate music and dance performances. The sumptuous contexts are emphasized by hanging lanterns, birdcages, curving European-style furniture, and fabric awnings. Certain images, such as the line of men with sticks (right border) may reflect specifically Muslim festivals and practices. In Bangladesh, when kantha-stitching was revived during the late 1970s and early 1980s to provide women a livelihood, this well-published kantha acted as a virtual pattern book for designers and its motifs appeared in a wide range of products.
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