The Several Layers of Kaantha

Art history/ Historiography

The Several Layers of Kaantha: The sociological context of Bengal Kaantha

Padmaja, K

Issue #002, Monsoon, 2019                                                                      ISSN: 2581- 9410 International fairs, symposiums, exhibitions, films, design stores, fashion journals to the rocking ramps; Kaantha, the poor mans blanket from Bengal has really come a long way from where it began. This needle and thread wonder of Bengal is extraordinary not only because of its stunning texture, rhythm of colors and curious motifs but also because it represents one of the earliest and the most extraordinary means of recycling old and discarded fragments of cloth through embroidery. It is an art, indeed, the art of frugality, of saving and sewing together every little bit, big or small, worn, torn or stained to create a stronger, warmer whole that lasts for generations.

For many of us living in urban cities and exposed to what the popular craft market has to offer, Kaantha would perhaps bring to mind a sequined georgette sari adorned with run stitches or a silk dupatta with Warli like motifs. Ask the development organizations, Government bodies, or the beautiful people of the crafts movement and they would like to impress upon the Kaantha as a symbol of our glorious past, a beholder of our rich cultural heritage and most importantly ‘their’ magnificent contributions to women’s empowerment in Bengal. Ask the real hands that painstakingly stit...

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