Kantha embroidery is an ancient Indian art form that has been practiced for over 500 years. The technique is believed to have originated from Gautama Buddha and his followers who used old rags with a variety of embroidery to keep themselves warm at night. The embroidery method almost completely disappeared in the early nineteenth century, but it was revived in the mid-1950s by the daughter-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize-winning author and poet from Bengal. Kantha embroidery had another setback due to the 1947 Partition of India and the subsequent conflict between India and what was once Eastern Pakistan, delaying its revival once again. Finally, after the Liberation War of Bangladesh, kantha embroidery returned to prominence as a highly coveted artistic medium.
Kantha embroidery involves slicing the textile into the desired shape and stacking the layers to achieve the required thickness. The layers are then spread out and pressed before the designer stitches a few broad, loose quilting stitches around the border of the fabric to keep the layers intact. To minimize creases and wrinkling, the finer kantha stitch is then used to create short, parallel running patterns. The stitch count for par tola geometric kantha is accomplished from memory, without the need for a blueprint. While the original designs were embroidered with a thread and needle, today's designs are first drawn with a pencil and then reproduced onto the fabric using tracing paper.
Kantha embroidery is not limited to fabric alone, as it is also used in creating kantha sarees. Kantha sarees are known for their stunning beauty and intricate designs. Kantha sarees come in a variety of colors and are made from various fabrics, including silk and cotton. They are often embellished with a combination of floral and geometric patterns, making them highly sought after by women across the world.
Kantha sarees are often paired with other traditional Indian clothing items, such as bangles, earrings, and necklaces, to create a complete look. These sarees are perfect for any occasion, from formal events to casual gatherings. They are also an excellent choice for those looking to add a touch of traditional Indian style to their wardrobe. Kantha sarees are not only beautiful but also steeped in history and culture, making them a truly unique and special addition to any collection.
The unique designs of Kantha Sarees
The kantha motifs are influenced by ordinary routine that include oral traditions, sagas, historical settings, ritualistic motifs, rich foliage with free creatures, deer frolicking, dancing peacocks, shrines, hukkas, trinkets, various kinds of costumes, and much more. Even the gods' vehicles, such as the bull, swan, lion, elephant, peacock, mouse, cat, eagle, and owl, are depicted by certain kanthas. The most prominent and fundamental motif discovered in Kantha is the lotus. The petals of a lotus flower may change between red and black hues. Black yarn is occasionally used for the design's outline as well as other times to fill it in with matching-colored stitches.
Along with the circular whirl, which depicts the eternal life cycle, only few tantric symbols have been used, including that of the lightning, the Vajra, and the "swastika." Another prominent symbol is the kalka, a cone- or mango-shaped motif that is stitched amidst helical whirls, broad belts of circles, and lotus- or heart-shaped patterns. Most sarees with kantha needlework are cotton, tussar silk, or virgin silk. Regardless of the fact that all these sarees are now manufactured on a massive scale for the commercial sector by a plethora of parties, which include fabric distributors, competent designers, and salesmen, the embroidery is still conducted out by the agrarian craftswomen of Bolpur, who have been perfecting their art for so many millennia. Depending on the intricate nature of the embroidered motifs, each saree needs weeks or occasionally even months to manufacture. This affects a kantha saree's overall price.
Q1. What does Kantha symbolize?
Lord Shiva is associated with Kantha, which is yet another term for "neck."
Q2. How many varieties of Kantha embroidery are there?
Kantha comes in seven distinct varieties.
The saree is arguably the most powerful piece of untailored cloth. It is superbly structured, its design vocabulary highly sophisticated. There is much a saree could reveal about a woman's and her family's social standing as well as her communo-regional identity. Each dye and motif that are to be found in sarees come with specific meanings. The cost of a saree is typically determined by the amount of time that has gone into making it, so the more complex embroideries and motifs are donned by the wealthy and the upper castes. The endpiece, known in vernacular as the pallu or aanchal, is the seat of the weaver's imagination. It defines a saree, and features the main proportion of work that characterises the saree.
One of India's endemic styles of embroidery is the kantha, a technique that involves layering cottons or silks or both by rows of parallel, circular, or swirling stitches. Having flourished in the late twentieth century in Bengal, the contrasting colours of this simple handworked running stitch - that could be left off and picked up at any juncture - has become characteristic of Bengal today. This was the chosen method of stitching for homebound Bengali women looking to rework whatever fabrics are at their disposal to put together new wearables as well as home decor. Natural pastel backgrounds are superimposed with folk motifs such as abstract figures, foliage, and local fauna. Kantha sarees are exquisitely lovely and snuggly; and, unlike their more elaborate counterparts from other regions of the subcontinent specialising in their own embroideries, are not heavy. The one-of-a-kind numbers featured in this section are ideal for evening galas as well as wedding rituals.
Two essential pieces of garments, that go alongwith the Saree, need to be chosen carefully to compliment the Saree. These are:
Start wearing the saree by tucking its plain/upper end into the petticoat, at a position which is a little bit to the right of the navel. Make sure that the lower end of the saree should be touching the floor, and that the whole length of the saree comes on the left-hand side. Now wrap the saree around yourself once, with the saree now coming back in the front, on your right side.
Make about 5 to 7 pleats of equal width of 5 inches, starting at the tucked-in end. Gather the pleats together, neatly, ensuring that the lower edge of the pleats are even and just off the ground and that the pleats fall straight and evenly. A safety pin may be used to stop the pleats from scattering.
Neatly tuck the pleats into the petticoat, at the waist, slightly to the left of the navel, in such a manner that they open to your left.
Drape the remaining fabric around yourself once more left to right, and bring it round your hips to the front, holding the top edge of the saree.
Slightly raise the remaining portion of the Saree on your back, bringing it up under the right arm and over the left shoulder so that the end of the Saree falls to about the level of your knees.
The end portion thus draped, from the left shoulder onwards, is called the Pallav or the Pallu, and can be prevented from slipping off teh shoulder, by fastening it at the shoulder to the blouse with a small safety pin.
Email a Friend