Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
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.