Art: Delicate, seductive Bengali embroidery
Kantha textiles, with functional and ritualistic uses, are woven into a culture.
This is because kanthas (slide over the h), besides being structurally delicate and susceptible to damage from prolonged exposure to light, represent highly specialized, non-Western cultural and aesthetic values.
They are intricate embroideries that vary in size from tea towel to bedcover, made in Bengal, a region now split between eastern India and Bangladesh.
Traditionally created by women from worn or cast-off domestic fabrics, they are in that sense like the quilts sewed by generations of American women. The multilayered kanthas are even commonly described as quilts, even though they're not filled with batting.
"Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal" continues in the Perelman building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fairmount and Pennsylvania Avenues, through July 25. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission: $7 general, $6 for visitors 65 and older, $5 for students with ID and visitors 13 through 18. Information: 215-763-8100, 215-684-7500 or http://www.philamuseum.org/.