Origins of kantha quilts
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?