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