The beautiful quilting stitch. Actually the stitch is simple running stitch. It is the way it has been used that makes it extra ordinary. The cloth was given layers that were kept together by the stitches. The cloth had multiple uses. It could be used to sleep on or as a light blanket. Kantha for the Bengali folk means embroidered quilt. Kantha is said to be dorukha meaning turning the worn out and old textiles and fabrics to things of beauty.
The Kantha Embroidery is predominantly the most popular form of embroidery practised by the rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done the soft dhotis and saris. The thread for this craft was drawn out of the borders of the used cloth. Fewer layers of the cloth are used to make clothes for other purposes. The outer layers of the cloth comprises of white or light colored clothes which made the embroidery perceptible. The embroidered cloth is used as stoles for women and shawls. The clothes also find use as covers for mirrors, boxes, pillows etc. The entire cloth is covered with running stitches and usually has beautiful folk motifs, floral motifs, animal and birds figures and geometrical shapes. Themes from day to day activities are also a common subject for the embroidery. Such stitches on the cloth give it a slight wrinkled wavy effect. The contemporary Kantha is not necessarily done on old multiple layered saris or dhotis. It can also be seen on the present day garments like the sarees, dupatta, shirts for men and women, bedding and other furnishing fabrics. For these fabrics and dresses the base fabric used is cotton and silk.
Kantha evolved out of necessity to drape or protect against cold. Kontha on Sanskrit means rags. It can rightly be called the recycling art. The precious silks and muslins when became worn-out, women instead of throwing them away, piled them in layers and stitched. Another legend relates kantha origin to lord Buddha and his disciples. It is said that they used to cover themselves with the thrown away rags patched and stitched together.
The Process involves laying the worn clothes in layers and stitching them together. The thread of the stitches is drawn from the old saree borders. The design is first traced, then covered over with running stitches. Kantha, has limitless designs, for every woman who works on it can make almost any innovations that she fancies. But some basic traditional design usually figure in the work. Another style of Kantha has a border with a repeat design done in darning stitch giving it almost a weave. A good bit of Kantha is done in white thread on a white background.
DIFFERENT STITCHES OF KANTHA
Archilata kantha are small, covers for mirrors or toilet accessories with wide, colorful borders
Baiton kantha are square wraps used for covering books and other valuables. They have elaborate borders
Durjani/thalia these are quilted wallets made out of rectangular kantha pieces
Lep kantha are rectangular wraps heavily padded to make warm quilts. The whole piece is stitched in a wavy pattern. Simple embroidery is done on the finished quilt.
Oaar kantha are pillow covers in simple designs. A decorative border is sewn afterwards.
Sujani kantha are decorative quilted kantha used as blankets or spreads during religious rituals or other occasions. This started in 18th century in Bihar
Rumal kantha are used as absorbent wipes or plate coverings. They also feature a central lotus with ornamented borders.
The various patterns are called jaal, jhod, jhinga phool, dhan chori, golak dhaga and many others all created by different placements of the running stitch.
Kantha Embroidery Stole
Kantha shawls are made in West Bengal. The characteristic feature of the Kantha shawl is the intricately embroidered shawls featuring various geometrical and traditional patterns. Embroidery on the Kantha shawls is done with fine needlework. This gives a rich sensuous look to shawls.
Kantha embroidered shawls are famous for their unique color combination and patterns. Kantha stole are made completely by hand with stitches over the hand loomed silk. The designs and rich texture that are commonly made on the fabric are lively design of flowers, vegetables, fish forms leaves, floral prints and vines climbing up this shawl. Kantha is not just a piece of craft but also an essential female creation. It is expressive putting forth a volley of emotions.
Design: The most prominent design among kantha shawls is Nakshi kantha. The Nakshi Kantha shawls are an expression of culture and tradition. The inspiration of its designs comes from the traditional art of alpanas, which is ritualistic drawing made on floors during celebration time. Kantha shawls are also