375 EUR

Silk shawl with kantha embroidery of lotus flowers.

This exquisite silk shawl by Saffron Designs is hand embroidered with a design of lotus flowers in the running stitch typical of kantha work.

The top embroidered layer is black with embroidery in brick and vanilla, while the fabric on the other side is a matching plain brick colour.

The term kantha generally applies to quilts, but may also be used for other items made by quilting old cloth. Nowadays it is also used for pieces decorated with running stitch.

Traditionally kanthas were made from cast-off cotton saris and dhotis which in Bengal were mainly white. Several layers were held together with dense rows of running stitch, also in white, resulting in a slightly rippled effect.

Threads drawn from the borders of the old garments would be used for decorative patterns and narrative embroidery. The border colours were fairly limited: black, red, blue and sometimes a touch of yellow or green. Again running stitch was predominant, occasionally combined with other stitches.

Motifs would vary immensely: birds, fish, animals, flowers, scenes from rural life, folk and epic tales, historical characters, religious or allegorical figures and geometric designs.

Kanthas were made across undivided Bengal (present day Bangladesh and the state of West Bengal in India) by women from both rural and urban areas and from different communities and religions for their own use or as gifts to celebrate family occasions such as births and weddings. It could take months or years to finish a piece.

The craft which was dying out in the second half of the twentieth century is now seeing a resurgence.

• 100% silk
• Dry clean only
• 105 x 240 cm
• Made in India