I lovingly stroke the soft folds of the quilt I drape over the bed. My fingers trace the fine lines of the patterns, delicately stitched to hold the pieces of cloth together.
Kantha - the melodious word matches the harmony of the bright colors stretched before me. I think of the time and effort that a woman from a different continent put into this work of art, and I study it closer.
Handcraft Indian art
Kantha - patched cloth. As my hand runs over the material, I feel the slightly wrinkled, wavy stitching. This quilt has intricate motifs of flowers, animals, and birds embroidered onto the fabrics. My thoughts wander to the woman again.
Is this a picture of her world, or is she dreaming about a better world?
She has turned this handcrafted product into a work of art, giving the old cloth new life.
Bedspreads, throws, scarves, and more
Exporting their work has given the women a chance to let their imagination run free while making products that have lasting utility value.
Yet, the bedspreads, throws, and scarves are more than simply objects that can be used. The soft material conjures warm feelings, making one want to snuggle up and revel in its luxury. The bedspreads and quilts are soft and light, the throws just the right weight for warmth, and the scarves reassuringly hug your neck.
Lay your head on a Kantha pillow and dream of an exotic land far away. Kantha craft is also applied to other products. Using a Kantha handbag is like carrying an artistic creation with you.
Add a touch of exotic India to your home. The intriguing Kantha colors will lure you. Choose from teal blue, olive green, tangerine orange, mocha brown, fuchsia pink, and more. Your decor will be a feast for the eye and assure that your home is unique.
Mothers pass this centuries-old tradition on to their daughters, keeping the Kantha tradition and their heritage alive. They learn the skill of ‘painting by needle.’ Each woman conjures up imaginary scenes to transfer to the material, making each design unique.
As she is working on the cloth, the woman may think about where her work would be sent.
Does she wonder about the destinations in other parts of the world?
Does she marvel that people in far-away places would buy her handcraft?
The overseas market has empowered rural women and given them the financial opportunity to improve their living standards. Indeed, she has to feel proud of her work and happy that other people value it.
Yet, I am sure that she feels a little sad when she has to part with it.
Kantha has all the modern-day buzzwords: reduce, re-use, recycle, repurpose, environmentally friendly, utility, sustainability, empower… Yes, this is all true, but what makes it unique is that each woman pours her heart into her work, elevating it to ethnic art.
I feel blessed that I could bring this quilt into my home. A piece of India.
Elsa recommends checking out KANTAUSA to find quilts like hers.
by Elsa Dixon, Ph.D | Travels with Elsa