India with its rich cultural heritage has immense art and crafts arising from different states of India. Kantha is one such well-known embroidery forms originating from the eastern states of India.
Kantha, also known as Kanta, it is a hand embroidery in the form of running stitches along the edges of the fabric. It is one of the famous forms of embroidery originating from eastern states of India practiced especially in West Bengal, Bihar, Odhisa, and Tripura. This hand embroidery is popular for its aesthetic value and is popularly used on saris and kurtas, shirts, and dupattas. It is also used for making light blankets, beddings, curtains, and other furnishings. It can be done on a range of fabrics like cotton, silk, chiffon.
It originated as a form of embroidery used by housewives to mend old clothes by using colorful threads. Traditionally, old worn-out clothes or saris were piled and stitched together to form quilts using Kantha stitches. This simple form of running stitch embroidery can be classified into two different forms :
The Kantha embroidery with elaborate designs patterns and motifs, evolved over time, mostly inspired by the daily lives and the culture of women stitching them. These are also known as ‘Nakshi Kantha‘. The word ‘Nakshi’ originates from the Bengali word ‘Naksha’ meaning ‘artistic patterns’.
The Kantha embroidery in the form of geometric patterns rather than life forms is known as ‘Par tola Kantha’.
Kantha embroidery on fabrics used as winter covering for the body is known as Lep Kantha. These are used as stoles nowadays.
Sujni Kantha is a ceremonial Kantha with heavy embroidery used as seating for guests. Now used as wall hangings or bed covers.
A square piece of cloth with Kantha borders all around the edges and the lotus motif in the center is Durguni Kantha. It is used to form a traditional bag by folding from three corners.
Unlike traditional Kantha that used to hold together different layers of fabrics, nowadays only bedcovers and shawls have multiple layers of clothes, other garments like sarees, curtains, bedsheets only a single layer is used for Kantha embroidery.
The difference between traditional and modern Kantha is that today it has become a style and has earned acclaim is the fashion industry.
Stole with Kantha embroidery