Tuesday, May 5, 2009

KanthaStitch

The Kantha Embroidery is the 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. It is a simple running stitch made on the edges. When five to six layers of the cloth were embroidered together it formed a quilt. Fewer layers of the cloth is 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. Depending on the use of the finished product they were known as Lepkantha, Sujni Kantha etc. 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 is an indegenous household craft, stitched by the rural women. It is also referred to as the thrift craft as it was usually done on layers of old cotton 'dhotis/sarees' with threads drawn out from the saree border for softness. These are then embroidered all over. Thereafter the beneath-side is covered by stitching single-coloured cloth for making it more durable in case of front-side Kanthas. More fine the embroidery, more is the sophistication effect. Hence the real value of Kantha embroidery lies in its fine craftsmanship and vignettes of daily folk life motifs being a favorite of the embroiderers. Nowadays it is usually commercially done on a single layer of new silk cloth using new thread, but the Crafts Council strictly adheres to the traditional three-layered quilting technique.
Some of the popular Kantha pieces are stoles, bedspreads, wall hangings, cushion covers, napkins and beach bags.
Kantha is one of the oldest forms of embroidery that has kept the women of Bengal busy. Kantha embroidery is generally done on cotton and silk fabrics. A regular in dhotis and saris, Kantha embroidery is running stitches used for making floral motifs, images of birds, animals, and geometrical figures. It is also used for making blankets and quilts by stitching five or six layers of cloth together. For this, the tread used is taken from the edges of used clothes. The embroidered clothes are not only used for blankets and garments,; they are also used on clothes used as bed sheets, pillow covers, and cover for tables and boxes.
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