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  • Place of origin:

    Bangladesh (made)

  • Date:

    early 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered cotton with cotton thread and quilted

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    South Asia, room 41, case 6A

This type of embroidery from West Bengal and Bangladesh is generically called 'kantha' embroidery, and is traditionally made of recycled cotton saris and dhotis that have worn out. Coloured threads were extracted from the borders of the old saris to provide coloured areas, although in recent times specially purchased coloured threads are used. Kanthas are made up of several layers of cotton cloth, stitched together by designs in simple running stitch, and designs are added using pattern-darning stitch, satin-stitch and button-hole stitch.
Kanthas are used for a multitude of household functions: the small size and square format of this one suggests that it was either an all-purpose wrapper ('bostani') or a seating mat ('ashon').

Physical description

Coverlet (kantha) square wrapper or seating mat of embroidered cotton with cotton thread and quilted. Embroidered with a large central lotus pattern, corner botehs and floral meander motifs. The stitches used are running-stitch, pattern darning-stitch, satin-stitch, and buttonhole-stitch.

Place of Origin

Bangladesh (made)


early 20th century (made)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered cotton with cotton thread and quilted


Length: 71 cm, Width: 69 cm

Descriptive line

Coverlet (kantha) wrapper or seating mat of embroidered cotton with cotton thread, Bangladesh, early 20th century

Labels and date

Cotton, embroidered and Quilted (kantha)

The floral motifs recall the lotus ponds found in most Bengali villages, while the corner motifs – the kalka or Paisley design – have their origins in Kashmir shawls. The background is quilted with a delicate running stitch, and the borders are embroidered in imitation of woven sari border patterns. [27/9/2013]


Textiles; Interiors; Embroidery

Production Type


Collection code


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