Kantha – Reclaimed Art


Gangasagar

Sanaih kantha, Sanaih pantha 

Sanaih parvata langhanam.

Slowly one stitches rags,

Slowly one traverses the path

And slowly one climbs to the top of the mountain.

–       Traditional Bengali Sloka

IMG_3505Kantha is a kind of embroidery popular in West Bengal and Bangladesh. The traditional form of this embroidery was done on soft dhotis and saris. The thread for this was drawn out of the borders of used cloth. It is a simple running stitch made on the edges. When five to six layers of the cloth were embroidered together it formed a quilt. Fewer layers of the cloth are used to make clothes for other purposes. The outer layers of the cloth comprises of white or light colored clothes which made the embroidery perceptible.

For centuries, poor Bengali women have taken their discarded cloth and sewn them together with a simple running stitch to create something new. The functional kantha dorokha (“two-sided quilt”)…

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