Kantha is a typical technique of needle embroidery practiced by rural women in West Bengal.
Traditionally the Lep kantha was done sewing together layers of old cloth, mostly saris, with intricate stitches. The thread used for the purpose was pulled out of the sari itself. Their meticulous artistry transformed worn out rags into extraordinarily beautiful creations that could withstand further usage.
Until today, this combination of thrift and aesthetics is not mass produced as it is very time consuming. A cultural tradition, deeply anchored in the Bengal way of life: Making kanthas is also a ritual activity as they are used to wrap and protect precious objects, newborn babies. At her marriage every girl receives an intricate kantha that her mother would have worked on for years. A kantha is also used during cremation ceremony to cover the dead.
Designs range from elaborate folk motifs that tell a story of the artisan’s village life depicting hunting, farming and dancing, to elaborate florals, animal and bird scenes, and complex geometrics.