An Intricately Stitched Small Kantha Bag: Coin Purse
ca. mid twentieth century
as shown: 13 1/2" x 9", 34 cm x 22.5 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 is said to be a coin bag, and the dense, hand stitching on it is almost kaleidoscopic--or psychedelic--in its intensity and in the way that its colors create a radiating, "eye-dazzilng" effect.
The bag itself is formed from a square cloth that has been folded, envelope-style, to create a carry bag. There is a just a bit of fraying to the bag's top edges, but overall this well-used bag is in good condition, still with rich colors and good embroidery.