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  • Tales of grandma sarees- Kantha Handicrafts

    The beautiful tradition of draping the nine yard long sari can best be seen in Indian states of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Kantha is an old Indian embroidery style practiced mostly by rural women of West Bengal and Orissa.  In Sanskrit ‘Kantha’ means ‘rag’ as the embroidery is made up of discarded garments or cloths. The word Kantha also means throat due its association with Lord Shiva.

    Kantha is a 500 hundred year old traditional work where women and grandmas of the house, use old and discarded pieces of clothes or layer 4 or 5 saris together. Then a running stitch is made on it with different motifs to give it a slight wrinkled and wavy effect. The various motifs are folk motifs, floral motifs, animal and birds figures and geometrical patterns and designs. Themes are generally taken from daily life activities.

    Image Credit - wikipedia.org Image Credit - wikipedia.org

    There are 7 types of different Kantha stitches. The first kind is known as Lep Kantha and is used to make warm padded quilts. Second one is Sujani Kantha and is used to make bed covers for weddings and ceremonies. Baiton Kantha is used on covers for wrapping books and objects. Oaar Kantha is used on pillow and cushion covers, while Archilata Kantha has beautiful motifs and colorful borders and is used for covering mirrors. Durjani Kantha is generally a small piece used to make the inside of a purse, hand bags and wallet, and the last stitch is the Rumal Kantha which has a distinct lotus at the centre and is used to cover crockery and household items plate.

    The thought behind the fine needlework used in Kantha embroidery is to employ old clothes and materials and convert them into something new, attractive and useful. The entire Kantha work depicts a tale or is like an inspirational story representing the hard work and dedication of women and folks.

    The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done on soft dhotis and saris where the outer layers of the cloth is kept light colored or white. This makes the cloth more attractive and perceptible. The contemporary Kantha is done on the present day garments like stoles, shawls, saris, dupatta, shirts, bedding and other household furnishing fabrics. Nowadays Kantha handicrafts are very much in demand in foreign nations. Many tourists visiting West Bengal take back lovely Kantha handicrafts to gift their loved ones and family members.

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