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story by Puja Singh
photographs by Geoff Oliver Bugbee for Heifer International

For centuries, women have been telling stories through art and music. In Bengal, these stories are told through Nakshi Kantha, a type of folk art where colorful patterns and designs are embroidered into a quilt with a running stitch called "kantha stitch". Nakshi Kantha tells the story of life in rural Bangladesh. It tells the story of the joys, sorrows and the dreams of the future. Originally produced for the use of the family Nakshi Kantha has seen a revival and is now produced commercially.

Heifer’s projects in Bangladesh incorporate the making of these intricate quilts as an income generating activity. Project participants work on one or many of these quilts at a time. A medium sized quilt will
take 2-3 months to complete and will sell for around 5000 takka. With growing demands in the national and international market, Nakshi Kantha is becoming a good source of income for many rural families.

The women of a Heifer group in the Johari village in Natore are gathered in the porch of a house to work on Naksha Katha. Each woman works on a portion of the quilt. A usual banter hangs in the air as the women share their secrets with each other. ‘We will work on this at least an hour a day,’ says Mousammad Sabina Begam. “It’s a good way to relax and catch up with the women.”

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.