For centuries rural Bangladesh has been much poorer, with fewer opportunities for its residents, than nearby cities. But one of its great riches is the embroidering art of Kantha. This form of embroidery takes various shapes and its products have become a traditional commodity found in homes across Bangladesh.
It is usually created with the use old sarees and cloth. They are then layered then with Kantha stitching to make attractive blankets, throws, cushion covers or bedspreads.
The name Kantha can suggest a light quilt worn in the milder winter. It has its roots as a women’s craft, as it emerged out of the creative expressions of rural women as gifts for loved ones.
One form of Kantha is known as Nakshi Kantha (Nakshi referring to artistic patterns), which are more artistic and features different designs and colours. Traditional Nakshi Kantha usually features a lily as the centerpiece, which is said to represent the tree of life. In the early 17th century, the Portuguese arrived on the eastern coast of India and were impressed by Kantha designs. They were then exported from Bengal in the early 17th century and were famously worn by the Queens of Portugal.
According to tradition, Kantha items are blessed with powers that protect from harmful spirits and are also given as a gift to newly married couples to help ensure happiness, happy marriages, fertility and fulfillment.
The art of Kantha is a piece of history, and as such, is a sought after decoration for visitors to Bangladesh to take home with them. This trade has been vital in supporting the livelihood of rural women and in helping them gain income to support their family, contribute to their children’s education and allowing their family to become financially independent.
Perfect for a gift or to brighten up your own home, our selection of handmade Kantha cushions help to capture the spirit and culture Bangladesh, from ancient times into the modern day. They will bring joy and colour to those who own them. Alternatively have a look at our full range of tribal cushion designs .