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Keeping alive the ancient art of kantha embroidery

first_imgIndia International Centre is coming up with an exhibition of Kanthas from the late 19th century till pre-independence; and contemporary Kantha created in the 1990s initiated by the renowned sculptor, late Meera Mukherjee. Titled ‘The Needle Reverence’ – a story stitched by the thrift of Bengali women, the art show will feature collection of Siddhartha Tagore and Mahesh Naithani as well as Meera Mukherjee’s kanthas from the collection of Dolly Narang. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainTo be inaugurated on April 3, at 5:30, by Jasleen Dhamija, veteran historian on Indian textiles, the exhibition is organised to honour Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. It will be on view from April 4 to 12, 11 am to 7 pm daily at the Art Gallery, IIC Annexe, New Delhi. A creation that started as a way to make life more comfortable has overtime developed into a more detailed and amplified Kantha tradition. Most Kanthas were made by illiterate rural women who would stitch stories into the quilts. Conventionally, these women used a simple running stitch and basic embroidery techniques to create quilts in addition to embroidered cloths for their homes with running stitches along the edges. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardFor generations of Bengali women, the technique of the age old craft were and still are being passed down from mother to daughter. These women would often personalise their work by either putting their name on it or by illustrating their relationship with the person for whom the gift was intended. As has been stated in the book ‘The Scared Textiles of India’, kanthas are as diverse as there have been women designing and embroidering them. Subsequently, the craft took a backbench, like many Indian handicrafts. In the 18th and 19th century the East India Company ruled a considerable section of the country. Though Kantha continued to be practised amongst rural women, the recognition of the craft faded as by then England was printing its own Indian textiles, with machinery and newly developed synthetic dyes. In the post-independence period, there were many a great attempts to revitalize and restore the dying craft with a new life. And now for decades the embroidery craft has been a source of economic independence for rural women. A revolutionary for Kantha today, Shamlu Dudeja took a great initiative in the early ’80s to empower women. Dudeja has worked to incorporate Kantha in today’s market with home decor, urban furnishing and clothing such as sarees. She points out that “creating new Kantha means lots of experimentations and payment to the artists, especially from the semi urban areas”. Kantha embroidery is a popular force even in the fashion world now. With designers displaying beautiful works with a contemporary flair. Kantha has been around for ages however, there is a growing need to maintain its authenticity. Although, a great boon to the handloom sector, which is now the second largest employer in rural India, some fear that with the profit oriented markets, the age old Indian heritage of hand weaving communities may lose their genuineness. The exhibition at IIC is organised in collaboration with MATI – Management of Art Treasures of India; with the support of Art Konsult; The Village Gallery; and Art and Deal Magazine.last_img

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