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Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Late 19th or early 20th century
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
The almost excessive use of loose black-and-red pattern darning with minimal outlining gives the motifs a striped effect and the kantha a pulsating vibrancy. Two elephants, one carrying a howdah (covered pavilion), the other sheltering a calf, raise curled trunks. Equally lively but far more abstracted are two great peacocks. Objects probably desired by or treasured by the embroiderer also appear. In the upper right is a small drawstring necklace representing bridewealth. At bottom center is a janti (cutter for the areca nuts that form part of paan, a leaf-wrapped quid emblematic of hospitality), and scissors, a rare possession that would have been especially treasured by an embroiderer....

Object Details

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