The Art of Kantha
Kantha - an ancient Bengali tradition
In West Bengal and Bangladesh, a sari blanket is an ancient art form called a kantha (pronounced “kan-tha,” it means “old cloth”). Women motivated by poverty and a need to keep their families warm have made kantha for hundreds of years. In the traditional kantha style, five layers of used saris are sewn together with a single running stitch to make a quilted blanket that is both functional and beautiful. Once the blanket is finished, Bengali women "sign" their pieces with their name, a mark of pride and identity. Such blankets are passed on as heirlooms to future generations.
Just as the traditional Bengali woman has taken her worn saris and invested her time and care to create something new, Sari Bari is investing in the lives of our friends and partners, the women in the red light areas of Kolkata and young women at-risk in outlying villages, for a new life in the making.
Each Sari Bari product - whether it be a blanket, accessory or baby item - is sewn using the traditional kantha stitch. Each Sari Bari product is unique—there are no two pieces exactly alike. Additionally, each woman has her own personal style and stitch, which means each piece varies slightly, within the quality standards of Sari Bari. Each piece is an investment of time, skill, creativity and patience. In the final step, the woman stitches her name tag onto the finished product, marking its completion as a work of art and the pride with which she sends it out for the Sari Bari customer to enjoy.
“Kantha has traditionally provided women with space and time of their own with which they created this extraordinary art-form. It is an exclusively woman’s activity where they can interact with other women and gain a sense of self.”—Jasleen Dhamija, from the Craft Council of India