A Very Good Kantha Coin Purse: Hand Stitching from West Bengal
ca. mid twentieth century
as shown: 14 1/4" x 9", 36.26 cm x 23 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, and blue cotton thread is fantastic, as is the wonderful design.
The motifs are typical of kantha stitching: in the center of the front of the bag is a stylized lotus, a symbol of the universe. At the center of the lotus is a shostir chino, a spinning wheel or a form of swastika, which implies the turning of the universe. Another shostir chino can be seen at the top of the bag.
This central image is surrounded by neat rows arabesques and foliate forms. On the back of the bag there are three more shostir chinos.
This is a wonderful, small, hand stitched kantha bag: just beautiful. A small bit of wear and fraying, as is to be expected.