About Nakshi Kantha

About Nakshi Kantha





The word “kantha” originally suggests a light quilt of mild winters and cool monsoon nights. Though the concept exists in almost all parts of the world, the form of quilting that prevails in Bengal is unique and not only serves as a functional article but also represents the cultural identity and folk art of this land. It is essentially a women’s art since the development of kantha art emerged out of the creative expressions of rural women as gifts for loved ones. Several layers of used or worn out materials such as saris, lungis and dhotis are stitched together to make a single kantha. The colourful patterns and designs that are embroidered on these articles resulted in the name “Nakshi Kantha”- derived from the word “naksha” which refers to artistic patterns. Each of these kanthas represents the contents of a woman’s mind and is filled with romance, sentiment and philosophy.


Different forms of the running kantha stitch are named according to the pattern each creates. While each kantha has designs that are unique to its maker’s imagination, usually there is a basic traditional pattern. Some of the most common motifs used are: lotus, solar, moon, chakra or wheel, swastika, tree-of-life, kalka, water, mountain, fish, boat, agricultural items and animals (elephant, horses, peacocks, tiger, monkeys, etc).

Nakshi Kantha



Chok Par:  eye border
Barfi Par: diamond border
Beki Par: wavy or bent 
Nolok Taga: nose ring border
Maach Par: fish border
Chok Taga: eye motif border
Dheu Par: wavy border
Gaach Par: tree border




The revival of Nakshi Kantha has not only generated an interest and appreciation for this indigenous folk art of Bengal, but has also helped to provide a livelihood for thousands of rural women who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. Aarong has played an instrumental role in reviving the kantha art since the late ‘70s by training and supporting thousands of rural women in its various centers, which focus specifically on the making of Nakshi Kantha and other products, made from this art. It has helped to make this invaluable art be integrated in Bangladesh’s cultural life and also promoted its value and recognition on an international level.