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Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Late 19th century
Artist/maker unknown, Bangladeshi or Indian
Along the right border appears the Bengali story of a merchant's vision of the goddess Chandi rising from the ocean on a lotus and emitting elephants. The merchant and his retinue are depicted as wealthy residents of Calcutta out for a jaunt on the Hooghly River. Elsewhere on the kantha are satirical views of role reversal intended to highlight society's moral decline. A man drags his aged mother on a leash while his wife or mistress perches on one shoulder (upper left border). In the lower panel, an unusual motif depicts a red horse astride a crawling man who holds the strings of a hot-air balloon; the embroiderer seems to have combined the satirical image of a horse riding a man with that of a then popular Calcutta circus act involving a girl parachuting from a balloon onto the back of a running horse....

Object Details

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