Old Kantha from Bengal
by Rishad Patell on
These wonderful images of traditional Indian Kantha from Bengal are a reminder of the wonderful and diverse quilting traditions in India. Kantha imagery ranges from Pre-Vedic times and includes the tree of life, the swirling cosmos and the sun and later images from Indian village life and ceremonies. In East Bengal, Kantha was a personal expression, an art-craft that was made spontaneously, even whimsically. It was never commissioned by rulers, nor ordered by the landed gentry and no two pieces were ever the same. It was craft that was practiced by women of all rural classes, the rich landlord’s wife making her own elaborate embroidered quilt in her leisure time, and the tenant farmer’s wife making her own thrifty, coverlet, equal in beauty and skill.
Kantha still maintains a strong cultural and social significance in the Bengali society. It has become a means of livelihood today and yet maintains itself as a household craft in many senses. Many of the women engaged in this craft continue to practice it from within their homes.