Philadelphia Museum of Art - Collections Object : Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

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

Late 19th or early 20th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, double back, darning, running, seed, arrowhead, brick, surface satin, and eye stitches

6 feet 6 inches × 55 1/4 inches (198.1 × 140.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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This atypical quilt, subdivided into fifteen squares each filled with carefully varied geometric patterns in multicolored running stitch, bears a striking similarity to the interlocking rice fields and ponds of the Bengali landscape. Close examination of the neatly stitched ground reveals that the meticulous central lotus, corner flowers, red fish with four-oared boat, and delicate floral scrolls in the square above the boat, were all embroidered before their geometric backgrounds. In contrast, the black-and-red fish and the two moths were embroidered on top of the finished quilting, as were the various supplementary line and cross patterns. These overstitched motifs use different thread and are more roughly and loosely embroidered, implying not only two campaigns of work, but also two distinct hands.