Kantha quilt

Unknown maker

  • Date: Early 20th century
  • Dimensions: L. 120 cm, W. 97 cm
  • Medium: Cotton, quilted and embroidered
  • Region: Bengal
  • Museum number: TXT.00601

A large square Kantha quilt of thinly layered and embroidered in the multicolored cotton threads with images of Europeans riding horses and on an elephant in a howdah. The central figure of a seated man fanned by an attendant and holding aloft a book bearing the words ‘Almighty God’. The figures interspersed with various birds and animals and to each corner an exotic fruiting and flowering plants.

Kanthas are the most interesting type of textiles from eastern India. Known as sujanis in Bihar they were mainly made for family use out of cast-off saris and dhotis whereas the the threads for embroidering were taken from saris. Several layers of fabric were laid on top of each other and then quilted with the simple running stitch which produced an embroidery-like design whose details were filled in with satin and stem stitch. The conventional kanthas had a central medallion and four buttis/ trees, at the corners. The rest of the field was then embroidered with all manner of motifs: bird, fish, flowers, leaves, human figures, domestic scenes, religious figures etc. These were used as quilts, coverlets, and wraps.

By the Same Artist/Maker

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