Kantha: Needled narration

Handicraft

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birth anniversary was celebrated across the globe recently, although most famed for his poetry, was a creative genius who played a crucial role in the cultural renaissance of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Artistic : ‘Kantha’ on fabric. Photo by Dilip Banerjee

His multifaceted talent also found expression in reviving traditional and folk art forms while at the same time drawing on world cultural influences.

At Sriniketan, situated close to Shantiniketan, there was a focussed attention on imparting fresh life into traditional handicrafts.

Kantha, a type of traditional embroidery popular in Bangladesh and West Bengal, originated with Bengali housewives mending and reinforcing old clothes with strands of thread drawn from the colourful borders of old saris and creating simple designs with them.

Tagore was himself a keen collector of folk art items, including the Kantha, and took steps to preserve rare pieces of folk art. The kantha stitch also depicts scenes from Tagore’s dance-dramas, short stories, songs, poems and his very popular Bengali primer, Sahaj Path.

Through kantha stitch, village women get an opportunity to unleash their imagination and embroider the motifs, and the result is stunning indeed.

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