The story so far

The centuries old Nakshi Kantha of Bengal was a dying village craft in the wake of printing. This is when ShamluDudeja came into the picture and began marketing Kantha-embellished textiles in a significant manner. First, it was popularized amongst Indian designers, such as RohitKhosla and TarunTahiliani. Soon, it found a place in the top-drawers of the wardrobesamongstthe urban elite, who had good taste and a sense of social benevolence.

Several successful exhibitions at prestigious centres, such as The Commonwealth Institute, London, The Gandhi Centre,Washington DC, and the Museum of International folk Art, Santa Fe, elevated Kantha to a well-deserved place in the world of folk-art, internationally.

This led to the birth of SHE (Self Help Enterprise) Foundation with highly skilled artisans as members. These artisans and their friends, embroider beautiful Kantha patterns on new silks and embellish other items for the wardrobes, or craft panels of StitchArt to decorate the walls.

Our Team Leaders, who are senior trained seamstresses (with our organisation) go to the villages and look for women with sewing skills who have a little spare time everyday. The inherent needlework skills of these women are honed, till they are able to vary the simple common-o’ garden running stitch with uniquecolour combinations to produce stunning results.

When the revival attempts started in 1985, there were just a handful of rural women engaged in Kanthaarkaaj; today Kanthaakaj helps hundreds of women lead better lives.

SHE has truly empowered women!

  • Kantha as StitchArt … a mixture of art and stitchery, which has never been done before ….is a form of renaissance of Art. All this thanks to the ingenuity and determination of the rural artisans.
  • The sense of pride the artisans have when they understand the role they have played in the revival of Kanthaarkaaj, by creating images never created before, through their artistry
  • A small personal income gives them a sense of dignity.
  • The team leaders are learning to plan long-term strategies, which will lead to greater success.
  • The life styles of the children of the Kantha artisans are moving forward.