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Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Made in Faridpur District, Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia

Late 19th century

Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, darning, outline, satin, running, eye, surface satin, fern, zigzag, stem stitch shading, dot, and seed stitches

45 x 65 inches (114.3 x 165.1 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 charmingly intricate kantha highlights elaborate scenes of urban pleasures including two babus embracing their courtesan companions (lower panel). Similar couples enjoy a jaunt in a pleasure boat, its snake-eating peacock prow with whimsically dangling legs (top border). Others appreciate music and dance performances. The sumptuous contexts are emphasized by hanging lanterns, birdcages, curving European-style furniture, and fabric awnings. Certain images, such as the line of men with sticks (right border) may reflect specifically Muslim festivals and practices. In Bangladesh, when kantha-stitching was revived during the late 1970s and early 1980s to provide women a livelihood, this well-published kantha acted as a virtual pattern book for designers and its motifs appeared in a wide range of products.