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Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

Geography:
Made in Panjia, Jessore District, Bangladesh, Asia
or West Bengal, India, Asia

Date:
Late 19th century

Medium:
Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, chain, darning, outline, satin, split, fishbone, arrowhead, dot, eye, zigzag variation, and surface satin stitches

Dimensions:
76 1/2 x 46 inches (194.3 x 116.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1994-148-673

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Label:
The superb needlework of this truly dorukha (double-sided) kantha displays a range of stitches, including extensive use of the satin stitch, and glorious color. The detailed costumes include typical round-brimmed men's hats and shawls, as well as the European shoes worn by wealthy Bengalis; some of the garments may reflect the cut of a European jacket. Certainly the artist exhibited her erudition as well as her skill through details such as the English saddle and stirrup on the red horse in the lower panel. This is the only piece in her collection that Dr. Kramrisch recorded as having come from a particular town.

Additional information:
  • PublicationKantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal

    The superb needlework of this truly dorukha (double-sided) rectangular kantha displays a range of stitches, including extensive use of the satin stitch, and glorious color. It is the only piece to which Kramrisch assigned both a town and a district (see Stella Kramrisch, "Kanthas of Bengal," Marg 3, no. 2, 1949, p. 25).1 The detailed costumes include typical round-brimmed men’s hats and shawls, as well as the European shoes worn by wealthy Bengalis; some of the upper garments may reflect the cut of a European jacket. Certainly the artist displayed her erudition as well as her skill through details such as the English saddle and stirrup on one red horse. Darielle Mason, from Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal (2009), p. 208.

    NOTES
    1. In undivided Bengal, Panjia was located in the southernmost spur of Jessore District, which protruded into Khulna. For another kantha from Panjia, see Stella Kramrisch, Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village. Exhibition catalogue. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968, p. 118, cat. 427. A kantha in the collection of the Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, West Bengal, displays a somewhat similar format, figures, and motifs, although utilizing much cruder parallel satin technique and a bright green aniline-dyed thread. Sila Basak, Nakshi Kantha of Bengal. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2007, p. 233, plate 231, gives its place of origin as Tamluk (p. 33), probably the early trade center in what is now the East (Purba) Medinipur District of West Bengal.

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