Kantha embroidery perceived its origin in the Vedic ages — it’s close-mouthed mention has been found in Krishnadas Kaviraj’s Chaitanya Charitamrita written almost 500 years ago. As a part of ancient art, this technique of embroidery saw the exposure of many kinds of motifs and symbols. The motifs were depiction of basic natural elements such as the sun, trees, animals, human and life in general.
But moderately, the embroidery found relevance and was used to portray fine intricacy, circumscribe culture and religion. With that, more and more rural people in West Bengal, Odisha and the neighboring Bangladesh quaff the style, adding their own personal touch to it.
Kantha embroidery was one of the means by which people in Bengal would drizzle their blessings on the newly born in the family. It would be gifted to their near and dear ones during auspicious occasions like wedding, housewarming and to showcase their skills. An interesting mythological allusion behind the kantha‘s origin talks about both Lords Shiva and Budhha swaddle themselves with garments made from discarded rags (or in 0ther words, Kantha) that were mend, patched and sewn together.
Kantha embroidery is a noticeable style applied to the creation of quilts, blankets and coverlets. Normally in Lep kantha, women sew together layers of old cloth, mostly sarees, with intricate stitches. The thread used for the project is pulled out of the sari itself. Their precise artistry transformed worn out rags into exceptionally beautiful creations that could withstand further usage.
Old, unravel cloths, usually saris, experience a new lease of life, also describing the story of a new life for the women occupied in this craft. Kantha clutch a very special place within the village life in Katna, West Bengal. Making kanthas is a traditional activity as they are used to wrap and protect precious objects. Baby kanthas are prepared to give as gift to the newborn. At her marriage every girl receives an intricate kantha that her mother would have sewn on for years. A kantha is also used during cremation ceremony to cover the dead.
The beauty of Kantha
Visualize a snake leaving colour patterned trails on a field in the course of its tour across it. Kantha, the embroidery once from Murshidabad, in former Bengal, with its running stitch and other silhouette of stitches in coloured thread on handloom saris and other fabrics, is just about that and more.
This eccentric art that narrate beautiful thread work has the running stitch bring out exquisite endearing motifs of flora and fauna, simple geometrical shapes, scenes from everyday life, mythological themes and folklore in multi-color. The stitches for kantha work primarily embrace the running stitch, darning stitch, satin stitch and loop stitch forms of thread work, however the stem stitch is specifically for the coloured motifs. Kantha work gives the sari a grooved and wavy look that modify plain into unique, average into extraordinary creations. Though the running stitch is most accepted for its ease, other forms of stitch such as darning stitch, satin stitch and loop stitch are also used.
Colour of the thread employed are based on the design and subject, the field or background and the plead that it could possibly create.
More about Kantha
Kantha got a commercial boost in the 80’s when an NGO saw this remarkable skill get it’s rightly due. A plenty of exhibitions were held and training classes organized for willing learners enamoured by this extraordinary skill and in due course the world got the first glimpses of this unique art. Further it was traverse for commercial transactions wherein the women would fulfil orders and get paid for it. This led to a new wave of art outstanding practitioners and soon it became a respectable means of earning a modest income.
In today’s times, rural women still see it as a means to additive the spare income of their households. Many do a lot of kantha work for traders in Kolkata and to export. The price of kantha embroidered saris lies on the cost of the fabric and the patterns used to decorate them. Borders and Pallus of Saris are mainly adorned by beautiful Kantha work set of unique appeal.
Kantha adorn a wide range of garments such as sarees, dupattas, shirts, bedding and a variety of other fabrics in cotton and silk. Old saris and dhotis are modify by kantha work to serve as gifts for beloved ones even today.
Shop Kantha from west Bengal and amaze yourself with beauty held with it.