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Kantha: Poetry Embroidered on Cloth

Krishna Lal (Author)

Kantha – the embroidered poetry on cloth – speaks volumes about the imagination of Bengali women and the aspiration that her craftwork reflects. It is a well-conceived art work, which has always attracted people from all walks of life. She creates the most amazing Kanthas with great love and affection for her dear ones. Her creativity stands unmatched when she breathes life into a discarded saree, worn out from constant use and laundering. She transforms this simple five metres of old cloth into a most admirable, attractive and unparalleled utilitarian artifact. Initially, light coverlets or quilts to withstand the mild winters and cool monsoon nights of Bengal were made using the Kantha embroideries, which was limited to simple stitches and a few colours. Some Kanthas were used as swaddling clothes for babies: expectant mothers spent their last stages of pregnancy in making a Kantha for the new born, with the belief that this piece of cloth would bring good fortune for the family and protect the baby from disease. Every home in a Bengali village housed a number of Kanthas that were more for personal use than commercial gain. This folk art emerged from a combination of materialistic circumstances and daily needs, climate, geography and economic factors. The motifs embroidered were influenced by religious beliefs and superstitions, and of course what the women saw around them. These motifs embroidered in the simplest of running stitches, speak of folk beliefs and practices, religious ideas, themes and characters from mythology and epics, flora, fauna, man and nature; they also reflects the social and personal life of people in their own way.

Contents: 1. Introduction. i. Meaning of the word : Kantha. ii. History of embroidery. iii. References to Kantha in art and literature. 2. Making of Kantha. i. Preparation process. ii. Types of stitches. 3. Types/Variations of Kanthas. 4. Kantha designs. i. Compositions. ii. Central pattern. iii. Corner. iv. Border. v. Field. 5. Motifs used in Kantha. 6. Present day scenario of Kantha embroidery. 7. Ignca collection. 8. Bharany collection. 9. Glossary. 10. Biblography.

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About the author

Krishna Lal

Ms. Krishna Lal (M.A. History from Aligarh University) served in the Department of Decorative Arts and Textiles for 34 years in the National Museum, New Delhi. Ms. Lal has participated in several seminars and international conferences held in U.K., Mexico and Greece and presented papers there. In addition to co-ordinating several national and international exhibitions, she was an active participant in the Festival of India Exhibitions in U.K., France and the U.S.S.R. during 1982-88.

Her publications include a catalogue on Bidriware in the National Museum Collection, New Delhi (1990); two catalogues on Indian Decorative Arts, published in German (1985), and in Russian (1987); Tourism, Museums and Monuments in India (1974, co-author); Cultural Tourism in India (2003, co-author) and Peacock in Indian Art, Thought and Literature (2006).

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Bibliographic information

Title Kantha: Poetry Embroidered on Cloth
Author Krishna Lal
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2014
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788124608289
length 166p., 29cm.