What is Kantha Quilt and Kantha Quilting?
Kantha Quilt is a blanket or bed covering traditionally composed of three or more layers of fabrics tied together through the stitches of Kantha Work.
Kantha Quilting refers to the technique of joining two or more clothes, on above the other, through the Kantha Work Stitches.
The beautiful embroidered Kantha Quilts of Bengal are examples of the high quality of Kantha Quilting. These Quilts and blankets are admired all over India and abroad. These are rare specimen of handicraft art.
Kantha Quilts of Bengal
The magnificent embroidered Kantha quilts and blankets of Bengal ( in India) taken by the Portuguese in Europe and has gained popularity there. The used to secure large amounts of Kantha quilts, Kantha blankets and other Kantha works from Bengal. Folk art products of India, particularly Bengal, were in demand high in foreign countries. The Portuguese influence was stronger, and this is reflected in the Kantha Quilting theme. The designs are a combination of elements including wildlife, and geometric shapes.
The Bengal Kantha Quilts are a good example of Indian art and Portuguese art.
Satgaon (Saptagram) used to be the main trading center of Bengal till mid-sixteenth century, when the Portuguese built the port of Hooghly. Kantha of Satgaon, particularly Kantha Quilts were very popular during those days.
The most popular Embroidered Quilts during the mid-sixteenth century was that of Satgaon-Hooghly area. They used Yellow silk, Muga silk and Wild Silk from East Bengal and Assam on a ground made of Jute or Cotton.
Types of Kantha Quilts
Lep Kantha Quilts
These larger Lep Kantha are used as quilts during the winter months. In places where winter is more severe, the Lep Kantha Quilt can be of seven layers. Lotus is again the central motif with the other designs in small sewn stitches to give a wavy surface so the Kantha also called Lahari. Lahari means waves. The lep Kantha Quilt has often geometric patterns. Motif design of the trees and plants can also be seeen.
Sujni Kantha Quilts
Sujni Kantha Quilting is generally six feet long and four and a half feet wide. It is used as spread over bed for guests to sit or lie on. It has a lotus motif in the center, borders designed with different types of flowers and plants. In places like Jessore, Kushtia and Nagaon, these are also known as Kantha Paarer. The Sujni Katha of Nababganj used new red fabric as the top layer with the old ones forming the other layers. The special features of these Kantha Quilts are that the designs are printed with the help of wooden blocks. It reflects the rich art of Bengal hand-embroidery. The Sujni Kantha can be classified into two categories. The Dorokha Kantha, design also appears in identical form in the back of the Kantha Quilting. Then there is the anchal Bunani where designs resemble the end of a sari. The Kantha has floral designs in the Iranian style and used to spread for bridegroom to sit in on their wedding.
Asan Kantha Quilting
Used during religious functions, used for a newly married couple and guests to sit. Also spread inside palanquins. In Bangladesh it is also known as khat or Bed Kantha. Khat means Bed. The motif patterns of Asan Kantha Quilts, relate to religious belief and popular.
Shawl Kantha Quilt
Shawl Kantha Quilt is used to wrap the body, which is six feet long and 24 inches wide and has only two layers of fabric. Motif Design is dotted with flowers and plants in the center and rows of decorative embroidery along the borders.