Nakshi Kantha

Nakshi kantha

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Nakshi kantha, a type of embroidered quilt, is a type of folk art of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.[1] The art has been practiced in rural Bengal for centuries.[2][3] The basic material used is thread and old cloth.[4] Kanthas are made throughout Bangladesh, but the greater Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Faridpur and Jessore areas are most famous for this craft.[5]

The colourful patterns and designs that are embroidered resulted in the name "Nakshi Kantha", which was derived from the Bengali word "naksha", which refers to artistic patterns.[6] The early kanthas had a white background accented with red, blue and black embroidery; later yellow, green, pink and other colours were also included. The running stitch called "kantha stitch" is the main stitch used for the purpose.[7] Traditionally, kantha was produced for the use of the family. Today, after the revival of the nakshi kantha, they are produced commercially.

Modern day articles

Today newer uses are found for nakshi kanthas, such as bedspreads, wall hangins, cushion covers, ladies' purses, place mats, jewellery boxes, dress fronts, skirts border, shawls and sharees.

Tree of life motif

Contemporary Nakshi Kantha (used as a wall hanging) with animal, fish, butterfly, tree and human figure motif

The influence of this motif in Indian Art and Culture (as with kantha) may be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. It is likely that the Indus people conceived the pipal as the Tree of Life...with the devata inside embodying the power of fecundity.[19] During the Buddhist times, the cult of the tree continued. Pipal is sacred to the Buddha because he received enlightenment under its shade. It reflects the fecundity of nature and is very popular in Bengal. Vines and creepers play an important role in kanthas and they contain the same symbolisation as that of tree of life. A popular motif in Rajshahi lohori is thr betel leaf.