Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Made in Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia
Made in Undivided Bengal, Asia

Second half of 19th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, darning, seed, fern, eye, dot, and zig zag stitches

32 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches (82.6 x 77.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Additional information:
  • PublicationKantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal

    To the right stand four male figures with upraised arms; at the bottom a similar figure flanks an auspicious knot created from intertwined snakes.1 The left side displays Kali on Shiva’s corpse near what may be a mounted hunter attacking a wild boar. At the top, an elephant bears a prone figure near a second cross-legged figure. While the images on the reverse mirror those on the front, this embroiderer does not appear to have stitched consistently from one side. As is evident by their clarity and technique, most motifs were stitched from the side shown here; Kali and the other figures on the left, however, were worked from the opposite side of the cloth. Furthermore, since convention dictates that the head of the corpse project to Kali’s proper right, the embroiderer apparently drew each motif on the same side from which she stitched it.2 Darielle Mason, from Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal (2009), p. 192.

    1. See Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994-148-706, 1994-148-677, 1968-184-3.
    2. See Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994-148-685, 1968-184-6, 1994-148-687.