Hardwick Hall Kantha Quilt

The Hardwick Hall kantha quilt is an early example of Bengali (India) kantha work dating to the early seventeenth century, in the collection of Hardwick Hall (England).

It was acquired by the family of Bess of Hardwick, possibly William Cavendish (1st Earl of Devonshire, 1552-1626), who was directly involved in the East India Company that traded between India and England since 1600. The quilt is made of a thin layer of wadding sandwiched between layers of white cotton cloth. All the layers are worked through using blue, green, orange and red silk threads in running stitch. The quilt is decorated with a central rosette surrounded by concentric rings. The ground is sub-divided into a series of rectangles filled with scenes of animals, birds, men and women, surrounded by flowers and geometric ornaments.

The quilt may be linked to the so-called Satgaom Portugese quilts, generally regarded as early forms of kantha work. These quilts are linked to the early, mainly sixteenth century trade between Europe (principally Portugal) and the town of Satgaon, and later Hughly in Bengal.

Source: LEVEY, Santina M. (1998). An Elizabethan Inheritance: The Hardwick Hall Textiles, London: The National Trust, pp. 28-29, pl. 23.

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Last modified on Thursday, 05 January 2017 20:05