Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Story-Teller Surayia Rahman: Magic In Kantha Embroidery

Kantha embroidery of Bengal is really unique as they showcase simple elements of nature and scenes from our day-to-day lives. Kantha embroideries are now found at almost every exhibition in various Indian states, unfortunately some are not of very high quality. Recently I came across the works of   artiste Surayia Rahman, who spent her younger days in India and settled in Bangladesh after her marriage. Her nakshi (derived from naksha meaning designs or motifs) kantha embroidered pieces are amazing pieces of art and showcase the daily lives of Bengali women and their involvement in household chores. Any woman would be able to identify herself with these activities like kitchen chores, chatting with friends, getting dressed, etc.

Now Surayia has started an organization called Arshi, where hundreds of women do the embroidery work under her guidance, to sustain her families.

Surayia Rahman, a self-taught painter, started kantha embroidery to give flights to her creative talent. Read here about her journey and how she got initiated into kantha embroidery in erstwhile Calcutta, that later helped her transformthe lives of scores of women in Bangladesh. Her tapestries are on display at several museums across the globe.

A Kind and Smiling Face


Suraiya guiding Women of Arshi. Pic: Anil Advani

Woman in Waiting

Conch Shells

Women in Blue


Kitchen Scene


Elephant Ride

Life in Bengal

Colonial Times

Women Busy in Household Activities

Women Engaged in Kantha Work

Boat Race
Oil Painting by Surayia
A documentary and website on the life of Surayia Rahman are in the making. To support or sponsor the project or to locate Surayia’s work around the world, please contact cathy@kanthathreads.com or refer to www.kanthathreads.com.



  1. Wow That is absolutely awesome..... It's such a pretty Kantha work pattern!

    1. Thanks! yes, these kantha embroidered pieces are stunning!

  2. hi , Is there a way to purchase these embroidery treasures? Please let me know.