The etymology ot the world „Kantha“ is a bit confusing. The Hindi definition identifies it as „rags and patches“ and as a covering worn by jogis and faquirs. People who lived often only with one piece of cloth, served as clothing, bedding and shawl. First of all the Kantha is for domestiv and personal use, made from old pieces of cloth and recycled threads. But Kantha making was always also a kind of ritual, where every stich becomes a prayer and each motif means something. Traditionally Bengali woman of all castes and religions practiced kantha making. The construction of the quilt is made by a simple running stitch that secures the layers of rags. The traditional white bengali sari made from unbleached cotton or silk was preferred. Decorative patterns are first traced onto a fabric panel. A variety of stitches – darning stitch, satin stitch, loop stitch and stem/split stitches – are then applied to render the geometric designs. The kantha symbols are a mixture of religious, ancient and everyday motifs of the modern life, indicative for indian culture, where ancient and contemporary society are seamlessly integrated.
Simple Kantha with stripes
Time: VI quarter 20th. century, probably West Bengal
Cotton with cotton thread, handstiched, thick layers, small traces of use (see picture)
Size: 1,40 x 2,05 m
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