Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

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

Second half of 19th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, darning, outline, running, seed, stem stitch shading, surface satin, eye, and fern stitches

38 1/2 x 37 inches (97.8 x 94 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Two multitiered rathas (processional chariots) with elaborate trussed construction, each pulled by a single horse, dominate the lower portion of this finely stitched square kantha. A tiny Shiva linga (a pillarlike icon) visible in each of the upper chambers indicates that these rathas are taking part in a religious procession. Also in the lower panel is a man dressed in what is likely a nineteenth-century military uniform, including boots, a short jacket, and a cap. The top left square encloses a single man with a conical hat, while the far right square frames a fashionable Calcutta couple. Though stitched for an intimate, familial context, kanthas give expression to the rich complexity of urban life in Bengal.