A Small Kantha Embroidered Pouch: Bengali Handcraft

$75.00 USD

ca. mid twentieth century
8 1/2" x 6", 21.5 cm x 15.25 cm

This is a very small cotton bag, a pouch, which was 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, pocket-sized bag is said to be a coin bag.  The cotton thread embroidery is done in red and black and is intentionally sparse. The central element is a simply rendered shostir chino, a spinning wheel or a form of swastika, which implies the turning of the universe. 

The bag itself is formed from a square cloth that has been folded, envelope-style, to create a carry bag.  There is a splash of noticeable staining to the front of the bag, but otherwise this fine little object is in good condition.