Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

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

Date:
Second half of 19th century

Medium:
Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, chain, darning, satin, running, cross, eye, zig zag variations, zig zag Bosnia variation, seed, fishbone, fern, and stem stitch shading stitches

Dimensions:
66 3/8 x 45 1/2 inches (168.6 x 115.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1994-148-686

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Label:
Pattern was paramount for this sophisticated artist. The interplay of abstracted motifs and geometric panels-some bordered, others segregated by carefully tailored forms-shows a creative eye, as does the vibrant palette, extraordinary range of stitch types, and the selective use of white-on-white running stitches as a design element. The elongated peacocks around the central lotus and the two abstracted processional chariots flanking it, with their tiers of striped arches, privilege the graphic over the literal. The panel directly above the left chariot contains four striped triangles covered in leaf-shaped projections, perhaps a rendition of the simpler alpana (floor painting) motif of a rectangle with interior cross and may also reflect the shri (ornamented rice mound) that is an important item in Bengali weddings.

Additional information:
  • PublicationKantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal

    Pattern was paramount for this sophisticated artist. A vibrant palette combines generous amounts of mustard and chartreuse with red, black, blue, and other greens. The interplay of abstracted motifs and geometric panels--some bordered, others segregated by carefully tailored forms--shows a creative eye, as does the extraordinary range of stitch-types and the selective use of white-on-white running stitches as a design element. The elongated peacocks surrounding the central lotus and the two rathas flanking it, with their tiers of striped arches, privilege graphic abstraction over legibility. The panel directly above the left ratha contains four striped triangles covered in leaf-shaped projections, perhaps a rendition of the simpler alpana motif of a rectangle with interior cross that may also reflect the ornamented rice mound (shri ) that is an important item in Bengali weddings. Darielle Mason, from Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal (2009), p. 209.