Posted by: Len

Update:  for some reason our hyperlinks on this post — other than for Tumblr — aren’t working properly.  They are listed at the bottom.  Sorry for the inconvenience until we get this fixed. 

At the urging of several friends and supporters, Cathy and I have set up a board on Pinterest, where we add items of interest on women, kantha, quilts, embroidery, fiber art, and whatever other topics strike us as interesting.  We’re thinking about other good topics for Pinterest boards:  film making, Bangladesh, development issues — who knows?  Suggestions are welcome!

Our friend Sitara Ahmed has started a Pinterest board on nakshi kantha, which we follow and enjoy.  Surayia’s designs have certainly been influential on contemporary nakshi kantha, as we note a number of sites offering for sale versions of her original designs — almost always without her knowledge or permission.

Threads:  The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman is also on Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.   Stop by and give us a “like” or a +1.  See you soon.

The missing hyperlinks!  You can cut and paste these into your browser.

Threads Pinterest:

Threads Facebook:

Threads Google+:

Threads Tumblr:    http://

Nakshi Kantha Pinterest:

Posted by:  Len

Thanks to our friend Sitara Ahmed for pointing out this article on the origins of kantha.  The Asia Encyclopedia of Intangible Cultural Heritage is full of information on handicrafts, crafts and artisans from across Asia.  There’s a lot to learn from this site.  Congratulations to the Craft Revival Trust for this initiative.

Posted by:  Len

A short slideshow about Threads and its themes is online for viewing and sharing.  You can see it on Vimeo here or on SlideRocket here.  I’m also thinking about embedding it on the website.

Please take a look and pass the links on to people who would be interested in this story of overcoming challenges through inspiration, dedication and art.

Thanks, as always, to Anil Advani for the wonderful photos of Surayia, the women of Arshi and the art.


Posted by:  Len

We have posted on the Threads Pinterest board this very good infographic about the importance of investing in women and girls prepared by the US Agency for International Development.  Surayia’s story is one of investing time and talent in a group of women who were considered by many not worth helping.  By sharing one’s skills, an individual can make a huge difference in the lives of many.  In Surayia’s case, she not only was able to raise and educate her own family with her art, but gave the hundreds of women who worked for her the chance to raise and educate their children.

Surayia Rahman and some of the women of Arshi.  Photo copyright by Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC,

Surayia Rahman and some of the women of Arshi. Photo copyright by Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC,

Posted by: Len

Our friend Javed Haque brought this article from the Dhaka Daily Star to our attention.  It describes the origins of kantha quilts and talks as well about the post-1971 revival of this traditional rural household activity, motivated by a desire to create income-generating projects for rural women and widows of Bangladesh’s independence war.  Surayia played an important part in the revival of kantha through her re-imagining of it as an art form.  Interestingly, this took place in Bangladesh at about the same time that quilting in North America was undergoing a transformation with the creation of art quilts meant primarily for display rather than use.

The photos in the article are from Living Blue, which we mentioned in May in connection with a presentation hosted by Maiwa in Vancouver, British Columbia.

While the Daily Star article does a good job of explaining the process of creation and rightly identifies individuality and imperfection as vital elements of traditional kantha quilt, I am uncomfortable with the attitude the author seems to be expressing about the limited intellect of rural women in Bangladesh.  True, many do not have formal education, but that would not necessarily keep them from having an understanding of the symbols in the art that they created.

What do you think?