ca. mid twentieth century
16" x 10 1/2", 40.5 cm x 26.5 cm
This is an amazingly beautiful--almost mesmerizing--small cotton bag
hand stitched in West Bengal, India, using a stitching method called kantha.
Kantha stitching has its roots in ingenuity and the culture of women: used white dhotis (men's sarongs) and women's sarees
were salvaged, cut and layered: thread from the colored, embroidered
borders of the used garments were pulled free from the rags and used as
embroidery threads for quilted work, the border threads usually being
black and red, blue and red, and sometimes yellow, orange and green.
Quilts, bags and clothing were embroidered using a running, stem and
satin stitch, the quilts and coverlets were constructed of many layers,
the number of layers dependent of the weather of the region where a
particular kantha was stitched.
This small bag or pouch is said to be a coin bag that is
fashioned from a square-shaped embroidered cotton cloth. The all over,
stitching in red, pink, green, grey and yellow cotton thread is fantastic, as is the wonderful design.
The exuberantly hand stitched design is a customary one for kantha stitching: you will see a centrally placed is a stylized lotus, a Hindu symbol of the universe. Surrounding this, arranged in outwardly radiating bands, are large-scale floral and leaf motifs.
This bag has been used hard as can be seen by (what appears to
be) light fading to the embroidery threads, overall surface abrasion,
and some abrasion to the corners and edges of the bag.