A 150 years old Nakshi Kantha..! Fascinating isn’t it? Have you come across one such vibrant fabric? The inexplicable embroidery which makes sure we are left with awe is waiting to get explored more. A Bengal household will have one which comes out of the Almira during winter. Well, we are talking about Bengal’s quintessential quilt version of ‘Kantha’ stitches, which tell stories in their own way. This particular fabric reminds us of your childhood, it brings back nostalgia! The profligate Kantha and the exclusive embroidered one known as ‘Nakshi Kantha’ is still intact in Bengal.
Keeping aside the forever charming Wax Museum, Eco park, or Misti Hub, if one wishes to see spectacular Kantha Work accumulated under one roof, one must drop by at the Kantha Museum of Ambedkar Bhavan, Salt Lake. The inexplicable traditional artwork of folk scenes in Kantha has been practiced in Bengal for more than centuries and this brings pride that should be kept alive.
You may ask what is so special about ‘Kantha’? Well, the answer is hidden within those embroideries. Day-to-day folk scenes are the main attraction of this fabric. According to one of the information boards on the museum wall, materials that were used for Kanthas were old saris, lungis, and dhotis. This is not just a survival strategy for the villagers. It is their livelihood. Even the beautiful embroidery made its way in the verses. Nakshi Kantha made its place in poet Jasimuddin’s poetic verses ‘Nakshi Kanthar Maath/ নক্সী কাঁথার মাঠ’ (Field of Embroidered Quilt) back in 1928.
It is an early form of embroidery which depicted nature symbols and they never fail to weave stories. The stitches mostly give a view of an ancient art form such as the tree of life, the sun, and the cosmos. The authentic part of it is, even today, the traditional Kantha embroidery depicts the symbols which remain closely connected to nature and historic culture.
The hidden gem is yet to get the actual respect which it deserves. The primary objective of this museum is to commemorate and acknowledge the contributors of the art form- the artists. This museum was build to nurtured and promote Kantha art in Bengal. Step inside the museum and you are bound to get lost (in a good way tho). One of the main attractions of this museum is, it still holds an exquisite collection of Nakshi Kantha, some of which are more than 150-years old. Can you believe that? 150 years old. Each of the Kantha stitches develops an aesthetic tone and unique stitch work vocabulary! It is a must-visit place in Kolkata.