Nakshi Kantha stitching helps Rajshahi women become entrepreneurs

Published : 03 Aug 2022 08:16 PM

Stitching and embroidering of nakshi kantha (quilt) have been transforming many women into entrepreneurs, making them self-reliant in the region for the last couple of years.

Nakshi kantha, a type of embroidered quilt, being made by the rural women, is seen selling at different posh and fancy shops with price ranging from Taka 5,000 to 90,000 per piece subject to size and quality at present.

Simultaneously, many people are also seen vending the item at community level as its demand is gradually mounting in both rural and urban areas contributing to making the local economy vibrant.

Sheuly Basko, 42, a housewife and Nakshi Kantha artisan from Sorsonipara village in Godagari upazila, said people are known for their Nakshi Kantha skills in this area.

"From our rich artistic heritage we can earn handsomely," she said.

Nakshi kantha has been godsend to many rural poor women here as they are sewing their new day's dream by beating long time poverty through stitching the country's traditional kantha commercially.

"I was inspired to sew nakshi kantha by other women in my area," says Monwara Begum, 43, another artisan from the same area. 

She herself doesn't only sew but also coordinates the efforts of several others. "I make money up to Tk 3,800 per month," she said. 

Adiba Khatun, 38, from Kakonhat area, who is involved in the industry for around ten years, said a nakshi kantha is required one and two weeks to be made, depending on the design. 

She said her husband works as a hotel employee as the income she earns is proved invaluable in covering the education costs of their three children.

For generations, women artisans have been sewing Nakshi Kantha. 

More than just needlework, it has become the emotions, memories and dreams of the artisan. Once it was made only for family use, but now it helps flourish the cottage industry in the district that is transforming housewives into entrepreneurs.

Dinesh Hasda, from Kakonhat under Godagari Upazila, who established his business entity named 'Adibashi Santa kantha' as an entrepreneur in 2013, said he employed around 250 women in his venture. 

He supplies fabrics and yarns, and the women artisans are paid between Tk 1,600 and Tk 1,700 for sewing Nakshi Kantha each depending on the size.

He said his business house produces as many as 1000 Nakshi Kantha per month as he himself designs kanthas and supplies them to his workers for sewing. 

"Our finished products are now being exported to around 17 overseas countries through a non-government development organization, Prokritee Bangladesh, in Dhaka," Dinesh Hashda said. 

Talking to BSS here Monday he said the business volume is now on a rising trend significantly and on an average, Nakshi Kanthas are being sold by around Taka 25 lakh yearly whereas his initial investment was Taka one lakh.

Nakshi Kantha, a centuries-old Bengali tradition, is witnessing a stellar revival as commercial demand for these colourful embroidered quilts steadily soars both in local and global markets. 

Women in rural areas used to sew these quilts from threads and old cloth primarily as a gift for newborns, making those a very practical gift in modern times as well.

Nakshi Kanthas' aesthetically pleasing design and its roots in tradition also make them a good decoration piece.