Kantha – Reclaimed Art

Sanaih kantha, Sanaih pantha 

Sanaih parvata langhanam.

Slowly one stitches rags,

Slowly one traverses the path

And slowly one climbs to the top of the mountain.

–       Traditional Bengali Sloka

IMG_3505Kantha is a kind of embroidery popular in West Bengal and Bangladesh. The traditional form of this embroidery was done on soft dhotis and saris. The thread for this was drawn out of the borders of used cloth. It is a simple running stitch made on the edges. When five to six layers of the cloth were embroidered together it formed a quilt. Fewer layers of the cloth are used to make clothes for other purposes. The outer layers of the cloth comprises of white or light colored clothes which made the embroidery perceptible.

For centuries, poor Bengali women have taken their discarded cloth and sewn them together with a simple running stitch to create something new. The functional kantha dorokha (“two-sided quilt”) was not a work of art, but simply what the poorest families used to keep warm. Kantha also had an aspect of intimacy. what_is_kantha

Women stitched kantha for their loved ones–for their children, their husbands, their parents. The earliest known mention of the Bengali kantha is five hundred years old–in Krishnadas Kaviraj’s Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, he refers to a kantha sent to him by his mother. [Manjary Mohanty, “Quilt (Kantha) Art of Bengal”] .

The unique thing about the Kantha is that it is made entirely from re-used cloth; threads removed from it are used to secure the layers together. The sari borders that are removed are often re-introduced as stripes which form the borders of the quilt. The density and direction of the running stitch creates a unique tonality and rippled effect.

Types of Kantha

IMG_3596There are seven different types of Kantha:

  • Lep Kantha: rectangular wraps heavily padded to make warm coverlets
  • Sujani Kantha: rectangular pieces of cloth used as blankets or spreads on ceremonial occasions.
  • Baiton Kantha: square wraps used for covering books and other valuables. They are elaborately patterned with borders of several rows of colorful designs.
  • Oaar Kantha: rectangular pillow covers in simple designs with a decorative border sewn around the edges.
  • Archilata Kantha: small, rectangular covers for mirrors or toilet accessories with wide, colorful borders in assorted motifs.
  • Durjani/thalia Kantha: small rectangles with a central lotus design and embroidered borders. Three corners of the rectangle are folded inward to form a wallet.
  • Rumal Kantha are used as absorbent wipes or plate coverings. They also feature a central lotus with ornamented borders.
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What products do we have on store?

A pretty odd mix we must say.

 

From the traditional selection of handwoven woolen carpets, to the eclectic and quirky silk pocket squares

A sprinkling of the age-old ‘dokra‘ created from by the lost-wax casting technique, coconut shell glasses and serving plates, amazing tribal art wooden masks and terracotta decorative pieces.

Add a dash of artifacts created from buffalo horn and copper repousse

A liberal serving of authentic jute bags and carpets

Topped up with silk bed linen featuring kantha work

and served with pure Bishnupuri silk shawls and stoles.

All in one place, aptly named…

GANGASAGAR

HANDCRAFTED | ECO-FRIENDLY | SUSTAINABLE | UNIQUE

Crafts of the hand..

What are handicrafts exactly? Google this and you find everybody worth his salt peddling handicrafts. Prices range from the very cheap to the Oh-my-god costly. Naturally, it gets confusing. One tends to wonder – are these authentic? What exactly am I paying for?

Wikipedia says:

handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, etc. Usually the term is applied to traditional techniques of creating items (whether for personal use or as products) that are both practical and aesthetic.

silk decorative panel 2 closeup sliderWe visited a lot of establishments, both online and offline, and although all of them offered handicrafts, none of them could satisfactorily answer these basic questions. The most we got was – oh yes, these are handicrafts, made from the hand, and so on and so forth.But why are these costlier? Pat came the answer – Well, coz they are handicrafts!

The traditional appeal of handcrafted items lies in the personalization. The product is created for YOU, as opposed to the conveyor-belt philosophy that dominates machine-made items.

 

That’s when we thought about it ourselves. It is not enough to sell handicrafts, one should also be able to take you through the journey of how these crafts of the hand are created. What the process is, how much time is spent to bring to you the exquisite piece that you so covet so much.

And so here we are…bringing to you not only beautiful and unique ‘truly handcrafted’ products, but also the hard work and craftsmanship behind them…

And so we thought, what better tagline than this?

Let us tell you a story…