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Embroidered Dreams: A Personal Appreciation of Bengali Kanthas

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Nineteenth century
Cotton plain weave; hand-sewn and embroidered with cotton thread
58 in. x 30 in. (147.3 cm x 76.2 cm)

Mingei International Museum, Gift of Stephen Huyler, 2006-81-405

In some kanthas, one fnds details that can be read on various levels. The central image of this baytan kantha appears at frst to be an endless knot, but on closer inspection, it reveals itself to be a snake, perhaps indicating tantric affliations on the part of the maker. Several whimsical creatures appear on this kantha, one fsh-like but with the trunk of an elephant, while others are not clearly identifable. The inscription on this piece, “shrimati umatara,” is clearly the name of the maker, Ms. Umatara.

1. shrimati Umatara
Ms. Umatara

Comments: Almost certainly name of the kantha maker. What is noteworthy is that though embroidered in bold lettering at the bottom, the name is written from right to left like a mirror image.