Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014,


Copyright 2014 by the author(s).


Kantha or, as it is increasingly referred to now, nakshi kantha, is an important women’s domestic art of Bengal. Layers of old garments such as saris, lungis and dhotis are stitched into objects of functional, ritual, or ceremonial use. In Bangladesh, kantha was revived as a commercial activity to provide work for women left destitute after the 1971 war. In the mid-1980’s, it was further developed as a public art. One of the key players in this revival was Surayia Rahman, who refined a domestic art, for private use, into fine art, for public display. Initially an artist who painted pictures and designed decorative pieces as well as dolls, Surayia Rahman.