What is Kantha?
We have all fallen for the beloved quilts but what is kantha?
Kantha means "patched cloth". It refers to the traditional practice of taking something to be discarded such as old saris and turning them into something beautiful and useful.
The craftmanship of the item is attributed to the combination of patterns and colors that make for a truly one-of-a-kind piece of art. The signature look of Kantha is the small straight running stitch common in Bengali embroidery. The stitches can be closer together or spaced further apart but that part is the labor of love. Each thread strewn through your kantha blanket is done by hand!
For over 500 centuries, Bangali women have been taking their discarded cloth and sewing them together out of necessity- to keep warm. The simple running stitch throughout the item was not to be so trendy but mere practicality of keeping the pieces together. As time went on, kantha developed into a generational skill that was passed down and shared with loved ones. Often a member would take items of clothing and turn it into an heirloom item to keep. Much like the modern day t-shirt quilts! Kantha was a way to pass on a story, desire or memory to the recipient.
Nowadays, kantha has gained popularity due to its beauty, versatility and intricacy. As we move towards a more eco-friendly society, we look to the Bengali women as true pioneers in a sense. Kanthas have low environmental impact, are well crafted and beautiful to boot.
There are many reasons to love Kantha and knowing more about the history of its practices have truly given me a greater appreciation for the care that goes into each quilt! I hope that everyone sees the beauty of the unused and sees how beautiful one's life can be when reworked!
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