Story of Nakshi Katha

Hand Stitched Bed Cover/Nakshi Katha

Nakshi kantha, a type of hand embroidered quilt, is a centuries-old Bengali art tradition of the Bengal region, notable in Bangladesh and Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and part of Assam.

In Bengal, women would often stitch their sarees together in layers to make a soft blanket called the kantha on which then they would then stitch narratives or mere motifs. It was in a way a process of recycling the sarees. The famous Bengali poem ‘Nakshi kanthar math’ or ‘The Field of the Embroidered Quilt’ by poet Jasimuddin tells the story of a woman Saju who embroiders her longing for her husband/lover Rupai on a kantha that she stitches. She dies waiting for him and before her death asks her mother to spread the kantha she made over her grave.

Now-a-days the kantha-stitch (running stitch) has taken a new form. They are often seen on sarees or other garments or are even framed adorning walls of urban households. The motifs are also changing depending on urban taste. The nakshi-kantha form is over 500 years old.