Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)

Artist/maker unknown, BengaliSecond half of 19th century

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, United States

Red, navy, and saffron threads intertwine in an unusual wide border of blossom and spiral roundels within a diagonal grid. Parrot-green threads enhance the vivid palette in the motifs around the central lotus-a swayback red horse with rider, green peacock perched on a blue elephant with bright red tusk, a knobby-kneed peacock, and a rainbow elephant with red rider. The human figures have distinctive triangular torsos, bulging hips, and muscular arms with pointed elbows. The animals are equally idiosyncratic; the elephants, for example, each sport a triple forehead bulge, as well as bent outer and straight inner legs with large toes. Corner trees with delicately undulating branches, several with roselike saffron-and-red flowers, complete this orderly and airy composition.


  • Title: Kantha (Embroidered Quilt)
  • Date: Second half of 19th century
  • Location: Bangladesh
  • Physical Dimensions: w30 x h29 in (Overall)
  • Provenance: Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994
  • Type: Textiles
  • Rights: © 2014 Philadelphia Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
  • External Link: Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Medium: Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery in back, buttonhole, darning, outline, satin, split, running, seed, fern, dot, and zigzag variation stitches
  • Artist/Maker: Artist/maker unknown, Bengali

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