Kantha is a centuries-old tradition of stitching patchwork cloth from rags, which evolved from the thrift of rural women in the Bengali region of the sub-continent. One of the oldest forms of embroidery originating from Bangladesh, its origins can be traced back to the pre-Vedic age (prior to 1500 BCE).
"Kantha" refers to both the style of running stitch, as well as the finished cloth. It was a 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." It was never commissioned by kings, nor ordered by landed gentry, but passed down in learning and dowry from mother to daughter.
The earliest and most basic kantha stitch is a simple, straight, running stitch, like the type used on our Kantha Sari Scarves. Over time, however, more elaborate patterns developed, which became known as "nakshi kantha".
Nakshi comes from the Bengali word, naksha, which refers to artistic patterns. Nakshi kantha is made up of motifs influenced by religion, culture and the lives of the women stitching them.
This most humble of cloths gave free reign to the imaginations of the women; kanthas told of folk beliefs and practicies, religious ideas, themes and characters from mythology and epics and the social and personal lives of the artisans; their dreams, hopes and every day village life.
This beautiful piece of art spontaneously handmade by Rani, featuring several details hand-embroidered with the Kantha technique - one of the most ancient and popular forms of embroidery practiced in Bangladesh. Rani is one of the women artisan who collaborated with our community based project ‘Shikor |Roots’ of Bangladesh Art Week.
We liked the idea of transforming the painting with this age-old traditional technique and use the wonderful colours and grid schemes in a new way.
This was commissioned by Shikor | Roots, project of Bangladesh Art Week