Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
Rubbery figures and an uninhibited composition blending characters from multiple stories imbue this kantha with rhythm and charm. At bottom, Radha and the gopis seem to float above the peacock boat while Krishna swoops from its stern to conspire with a pillarlike figure who is probably Barai Bui, a widow who acted as the lover's liaison. Dark blue lines to either side of the boat evoke the Ganges River, while the river herself appears as the four-armed goddess Ganga riding a mythical sea creature on similarly abbreviated waters (right panel). The top panel contains an episode from the epic Ramayana where the many-headed demon Ravana battles his bow-wielding adversaries. A great flying insect replaces the seedpod of the many-petaled lotus at center.