Kantha is a type of embroidery originating in Bolpur, in the district of Bankura, West Bengal. It is an important cottage industry in this area and in Bengal as a whole. This particular kind of artistic work was first used to adorn quilts. But over the years it has found its own ground and popularity for its craftsmanship. Today it is being used in sarees and other Indian wear too. Kantha sarees hence are quite a new trend in the garment industry. The Kantha stitch has found its value in the market due to its aesthetic value and handmade craftsmanship.
Kantha, the word means embroidered quilts. They were made using old sarees which would be stitched together using colorful threads and creating embroidery patterns to make cushions. These were woven using a running stitch making them durable and easy to wash. They were used to wrap babies in the winter season.
Historically, colorful patterns were woven into the quilts giving it the name of Nakshi Kantha. This stitch and style of embroidery has become immensely popular today used in stitching sarees and other ethnic Indian wear.
The stitching is done to create beautiful motifs and geometrical patterns on the cloth while sometimes completely covering the cloth with designs and patterns of flowers, animals and birds. The running stitch is used to create these intricate and beautiful patterns and motifs.
Originally, motifs and designs were not drawn or traced on the Kantha first. It was traced with the needle and thread to create the outline for the motif followed by focal points which were then stitched starting from the centre and going for the corner decoration or any additional decorations. Sometimes, wooden blocks were used to print the design on the cloth for intricate designs and patterns this has been replaced with tracing paper today.
Kantha Sarees today
Kantha sarees have become a trend now which is why they are now commercially manufactured with various industries involved for providing the different raw materials required for assembling a Kantha saree .However, the weaving of the embroidery of the saree is done till today by the craftswomen of Bolpur who have pioneered the art which is being passed down by generations. However, a Kantha saree still takes over a month to make and sometimes even more depending on the detail of the design that is to be done on the saree which is very difficult and intricate. All these factors go in to decide the price point of a Kantha saree.