Kantha embroidery is a specific type of embroidery that originated mainly in West Bengal. It is a popular trend to use kantha throws in sarees. The hard work of Bengali women in the past has laid the foundation of popularizing kantha sarees. This has also made them popular in the rest of the world. But, kantha is not just of one type. You will find them in several varieties.
The literal meaning of kantha in Sanskrit is rags. The origin of kantha is often linked to Buddha and his disciples who used the fabrics in the form of garments. Now kantha products have swarmed the market. You will find them in several garment and furniture pieces.
Earlier, it was used for making simple quilts. They were woven by women to keep the family warm during the night. This style of embroidery became exceptionally popular after tourists started visiting Bengal.
In the traditional times, kantha made use of a simple running stitch towards the edges using sarees and soft dhotis. The use of the kantha products depended on the finishing, which was known as either Sujni kantha or Lep kantha.
The embroidery made use of a very unique technique which involved using running stitches to depict beautiful motifs. They ranged from birds, animals, flowers, to mythology and lifestyle. Apart from Geometrical shapes, themes of everyday lives and activities were also included in the kantha embroidery
As discussed earlier, kantha embroidery can be of several varieties. We are going to discuss some of the traditional ways of doing running stitch.
- Lep Kantha: This style involves the creating rectangular warps that are heavily padded in order to produce warm coverlets. The whole piece is stitched in a way ripped designs. Later, simple embroidery is executed over it.
- Sujani Kantha: This type makes use of rectangular cloth pieces that can be used in the form of spreads or blankets. They are mainly used for occasions.
- Baiton Kantha: This style makes use of square warps that are used for covering books and similar valuable materials. They are usually patterned elaborately with several colour designs and borders.
- Oar Kantha: This is a kind of rectangular covers having very simple designs. They are simple, but have gorgeous decorative border around the edges.
- Archilata Kantha: This type involves small rectangular covers used for holding toilet accessories or covering mirrors. They often display colourful borders with assorted motifs.
- Durjani Kantha: This type has small rectangles with embroidered borders and a central louts design. These rectangles are usually folded inwards for using them in the form of wallets.
Contemporary kantha has been spread to a wide range of garments. These kantha products include dupattas, sarees, pillow covers, bed sheets, shirts for women and men. Most of the work is done using silk and cotton. Kantha makes use of the simplest style of embroidery, yet has the ability to create something marvellous. Kantha embroidery is absolutely stunning, which makes it popular not only in India, but also worldwide.