The word “kantha” in Bengali means an embroidered quilt. Quilts used to be made from recycled sarees and dhotis by women in rural Bengal by layering 3-4 pieces of old sarees or dhotis and using coloured threads from the border of one of the sarees to stitch the layers together by embroidering patterns on them. The running stitch was typically used in the embroidery, thus giving it the name ‘kantha stitch’.The colourful patterns that were embroidered on the quilts resulted in the name “nakshi kantha”, derived from the Bengali word ‘naksha’ meaning artistic patterns. Today, nakshi kantha refers to very intricately embroidered kantha patterns. These patterns are now used on sarees, giving rise to the hugely popular kantha sarees of Bengal.