Avatars of Vishnu April

Fashioned from salvaged cloth with needle and thread, kantha are quilted textiles for domestic use. In a lecture titled "At Hari’s Feet: Embroidering a Space of One’s Own in Colonial Bengal," Pika Ghosh, Visiting Associate Professor of Religion at Haverford College, explores the celestial realm embroidered on a kantha featured in her new book, Making Kantha, Making Home, and argues for the interpretation of the textile as an intimate offering for the gods, Krishna and Radha.

The role of embroidery as devotion is one that has not been afforded attention despite the emphasis on corporeal and emotional engagement with the divine in the Bengali Vaishnava tradition. The material intelligence inherent in the tactility of cloth, and in the repeated turning of wrist and movement of fingers to puncture the fabric with needle to render each stitch with precision and uniformity, mindful of balance and symmetry, offered a medium for a woman to cultivate a space of her own. Through this interiorizing process, she explores the fundamental bhakti (devotional) intertwining or inseparability of worshipper and the divine.

To learn more about the Avatars of Vishnu exhibition, click HERE.