Types and Process of Kantha Embroidery

The Sanskrit word kontha defines ‘rags.’ One legend links their origins to Lord Buddha and other gods like Brahma and Shiva who used to cover themselves with dresses made from discarded rags that were patched and sewn together. Rags unveil at Indian shrines or bind to tree limbs symbolize prayers and wards off the evil eye. The oldest endure kantha date from the early 1800s and is embroidered with blue, black and red threads that were untangle from sari borders. Because they were reinstate from used garments that had been habitually laundered, the colors tend to be muted. Please see types and process of kantha embroidery below –

Types of Kantha – 

Lep kantha are rectangular swaddle heavily padded to make warm coverlets. The whole piece would be stitched in wavy, rippled designs over which elementary embroidery was performed.

Sujani kantha are rectangular pieces of cloth used to make blankets or spreads on ceremonial occasions. It is kind of heavy work done of piece of cloth.

Baiton kantha are square swaddle used for covering books and other valuables. They are carefully patterned with borders of several rows of multi-color designs.

Oaar kantha : In this there are rectangular pillow covers in plain designs with a decorative border sewn throughout the edges.

Archilata kantha : In this there are small, rectangular covers for mirrors or toilet accessories with broad, colorful borders in assorted motifs.

Durjani/thalia kantha : In this there is a small rectangles with a midway lotus design and embroidered borders. Three corners of the rectangle are bending inward to form a wallet.

Rumal kantha : This is used as permeable wipes or plate coverings. These also attribute a central lotus with ornamented borders.

Dorokha or the double-sided kantha : This has either an alike pattern or sometimes a different pattern at the back of the embroidery. So it is veracious a reverse embroidery.

Kantha comprises of the elementary stitch in the language of embroidery – the running stitch. It is the process in which this stitch is used, in divergent arrangements which forms the complex vocabulary of kantha.
Originally it was used to sewn the layers of old saris, to make quilts and was used as a means of showing their thoughts, ideas by both urban and rural women in Bengal.

 Kantha Process and Stitches

The process of making kantha embroidery is quite simple but it allows for a vast range of expression. Now a day’s people have used this embroidery form in several ways from cutting-edge contemporary to classic traditional.

The motif is first drawn on paper by hand.

The outline is then hunt down on to a tracing paper. The edges of the pattern are incised with a needle with a distance of 1 mm between each prick. Colored embroidery threads are chosen in accordance with the pattern. All of the threads have code numbers that are eminent for future reference.Cane frames may be used to lengthen the fabric. Larger plastic frames may also be used.

Usually a simple outline is first made on the pattern.Sometimes the patterns are more abstract and are finished all over the fabric, usually to hold 3 or more layers of cloth. These motif are embroidered free-hand without discover. Artisans are skilled enough to stitch evenly spaced spirals or lines. In kantha embroidery there are numerous patterns for borders as well as ‘butis’ or dots to pervade a fabric.

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Kantha Embroidery needs a Rejuvenation

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.

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