The current popularity of kantha across the country, and now abroad too, as a fashion statement has a very humble beginning.
Kantha, in Bengali, literally means a quilt. There is a variety of stiches and design but there is a unity in the traditional arrrangement of a ;padma lotus in the centre or mandap, a tree of life in each corner, kalkas, mythical figures, animals, birds, geometrical objects, symbols of the sun and moon, the;swastika;, each representing a part of the village women's cultural conscience and the whole relating story. Bengal kantha making is a little different from other quilting artistry. The material is different, so is the stitching method. The stitching patterns of Bengal kanthas are simple, but it can be very intricate depending on the inclination of the kantha maker. Bengal kantha makers reflect their traditions in choosing their designs.
A Bengali poet wqrote:
Spreading the embroidered quilt
She works the livelong night,
As if the quilt her poet were
Of her bereaved plight.
Many a joy and many a sorrow
Is written on ist breast;
The story of Rupa's life is there,
line by line expressed.