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Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Second half of 19th century
Artist/maker unknown, Bengali
This square kantha is decidedly one-sided, with little of the neatly pattern-darned embroidery appearing on the reverse. Despite the two small birds in the upper right, orderly vegetation dominates. The inner border uses four different distinct patterns, including kalkas (paisley motifs), a leaf-vine and a row of four-petaled blossoms. Around this appear a wide floral scroll, an elongated chevron, and a double chain. Each motif carries an evocative local name. The chevron motif, for example, is referred to in terms such as "rice stalk" or "date branch," showing that even geometric forms were conceived as abstracting the natural world.

Object Details

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