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Embroidered Dreams: A Personal Appreciation of Bengali Kanthas

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Early twentieth century
Cotton plain weave; hand-sewn, quilted, and embroidered with cotton thread
76 in. x 44 in. (193 cm x 111.8 cm)

Mingei International Museum, Gift of Courtenay C. McGowen, 2013-33-028

The border of this kantha is embroidered in imitation of woven sari borders. In the center, a small mandala is surrounded by horses, humans, birds, and pinwheels stitched in red, blue, black, and yellow thread. A stylized plant appears in each corner, and inscriptions are embroidered on both long edges.

1. ei kanthar malkan Ronida
   The owner (malkan or malikan) of this kantha is Roni, the older brother.
2. Shri kishna (Krishna)
3. Shri rata (Radha?)

Comments: Probably an example of semi-literate woman’s inability to embroider the lettering correctly. No relation to the subject but simple invocations of the deities. The suffix da (pronounced daa) when added to a name in Bengali denotes an older male sibling. For a woman it is di.