The Bengal Kantha or Kantha of Bengal can be discussed under the following heads, based on location :
- West Bengal Kantha
- Kantha of Bangladesh
West Bengal Kantha
West Bengal districts deserve special mention in the context of Nakshi Kantha . Nakshi Kantha stitching of Murshidabad, Malda, Nadia, Bankura, Midnapore, Howrah, Burdwan, Birbhum and North and South 24 Parganas are beautiful works of Bengali Women.
The dorokho (double-sided) Kantha is also made in West Bengal andare known for its variety of designs and motifs.
Kantha of Murshidabad
The Kanthas are thick. The running stitch and the small sitich is used. The popular folk works are Sujni Kanthas, Lep Kantha, Roasted Kantha , Arsilata. The Kantha works have lotus motif in the center and alpana and floral designs. The motifs used are flowers, owl, birds, elephant, peacock, betel leaves, etc.
Kantha of Malda
Malda Known for its beautiful Kanthas. The designs are Lahari and geometric, with small series used in the vacant spaces of the designs. The motifs are seen are those of peacock with feathers spread, betel leaves, boat, mat, sun, and flowers.
Kantha of West Dinajpur
Kanthas are quite heavy in West Dinajpur. The small stitch is used and the reasons are peacock, bird, fish, tiger, elephant, fan, nutcrackers, flowers.
Kantha of Nadia
The running stitch is mainly used as well as the small stitch. Sujni, durjani, dorokha (two-sided) Kanthas can be found here. The lotus flower motifs dominate alpana. The motifs such as elephant, fish, peacock,kalka, human figures, tree of life, deities are commonly used.
Kantha of Bankura
Floral and other designs attract special attention. The Motifs are, dog, bear, monkey,the tree of life, peacock, betel leaves etc
Kantha of Burdwan
The tradition of gifting Kanthas to the bride on her wedding still continues.
Kantha of Birbhum
Muslim girls emphasize the geometric pattern. Hindus also make Kanthas in Birbhum area. A particular feature is the twisted flower in Kanthas. The most common motif is the flower, although other motifs are also found.
Kantha of North 24 Parganas
Almost all kinds of Kantha Stitches are found. Wide variety of Motif pattern are common denoting the rick flok art tradition of North 24 Parganas. Kantha of various sizes and designs and high quality of needle emboridery reflects the imaginative power of the Bengali Women. Border designs include geometric, abstract etc. The Motifs are peacock, boat, shell, fish, elephant, scenes from the epics, deities etc.
Kantha of Bangladesh
The most popular Kanthas of Bangladesh, based on location are:
1. The Jessore Kantha
2. The Chapai Nawabganj Kantha
Jessore Kantha is known for its superb art. The Jessore Kantha stitching is known for its fine stitching. The spaces between designs and motifs are filled up with thread work.
Jessore stitch is well known in the world of needle-work and common stitches that are used are the honeycomb, Benki, Pimpri etc. The motifs include different types of flowers. The dorokha Kantha is also seen in Jessore.
Five types of Kanthas are made in Champainawabganj such as – the Lahari, leak, sujni, carpet and chhoptana without mixing types of stitches. A single stitch is used to complete the entire Kantha work, such as cross stitch for Carpet Kantha or one stitch for Sujni Kantha.
The Champainawabganj Kanthas are also known for Kantha Motifs that cover the entire surface. These Motifs include flower shapla, betel leaves, rose flower. The Motifs further include, peacock, deer, parrot,globe, elephants, weaver bird nest, mosque. etc.
Lahari Kantha is the oldest Kantha of Champainawabganj and Rajsahi District. Lahari Kantha Work is famous for designer carpet with flower motifs all over it.
Kanthas of other districts of Bangladesh
Kantha Embroidery of geometric patterns, flowers are found here. The stitches are light and thin. Kadam Flower is used very often in design Motifs. The running stitch, shadow stitch, cross stitch of Kantha are also found here. It is customary to give at least two works of Kantha to girls on their wedding. In general, the Kantha quilting is found in Chittagong.
Kantha Work of Mymensingh District
The Kantha work displays wide use of variety of colors. Running stitch is used on Dastarkhan Kanthas. The Kanthas of this region are noted for taga stitching. The Kanthas have alpana design or lotus center around which is other designs are stitched. The Motifs of the elephant, fish, peacock, tiger, butterfly, horses, mosque, palanquin, boat, etc. are commonly used.
Kantha Works of Faridpur
The Kantha work of Faridpur district were of medium thickness. The Kanthas are made for bed rooms and palanquins.
Kantha of Kushtia
These Kanthas are made of thick thread. The art work is also not very fine. Bending stitch is widely used. Rajsahi influence is seen in the Kanthas here. There is a preference for vegetables, thechokh (eye), the sweet barfi etc
Kanthas of Bagura
Kanthas works are very thick. Paar Kantha is found here. Many colored yarns are used to make rows of borders.
Kantha of Pabna
The Sujni Kanthas of Pabna distirct are closely intertwined and have fewer motifs.
These Kanthas of Sylhet are thick and have a lot of motifs.
The practice of Kantha stitching is less widespread. Kantha Asan is the most often with Kantha paar designs.
The designs are linear and is button-hole stitch.