Embroidering Futures: Repurposing the Kantha

Edited by Ritu Sethi
India Foundation for the Arts
192 pp., Rs. 400, US$ 30
This book was supported by Infosys Foundation.

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Centuries before the world worried about recycling resources, women in Bengal gathered old and worn out fabrics, tattered saris and stitched them together with coloured threads into usable duvets, bed linen and dust covers for furniture – the Kantha. On these kanthas, women embroidered tales and ballads, memories and wishes, loss and hope. There were simple kanthas that would be used everyday at home and elaborate ones made as gifts for special occasions like birth and marriage. It embodied the stories of generations of women chronicling their lives and aspirations. Over the years, the kantha has travelled from these homes to shops and boutiques where today they are sold as expensive works of art. This book traces this journey of the kantha from its origins to its current avatar, through the narrations and recollections of collectors, inheritors, designers and produces of this unique piece of embroidered cloth.

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