Kantha embroidery is one of the popular form of Indian embroidery techniques.It is widely practiced in West Bengal.Today it is also one of the popular techniques in Bangladesh which was a part of Bengal,India before the independence.I would say that kantha embroidery is one of the finest example of rich folk art.The kantha quilts were exported to Europe in large quantities during late 1500's - early 1600's.
The kantha embroidery has both Hindu and Muslim influence which is evident from the motifs used in this form.
*The above image is a part of a pattern from my collection of a sampler worked by an unknown kantha embroiderer.
Kantha quilts called 'Lep' are made from old sarees. To make a 'leo' many sarees are laid together, running stitches with white thread are used to join and strengthen the sarees. The base fabric of the quilt is always a white saree (both cotton and silk) , decorative motifs are drawn and embroidered using black,red,green,yellow and blue threads.To get a rippled effect the entire quilt is covered by darning/running stitches with white threads.
Apart from quilts there are also other varieties of kantha. The most popular one is 'sujanis' which is a thin spread used during religious festivals and marriages.The mythological stories are depicted in these sujanis. Lord Krishna and the lotus dominates the sujanis. 'Rumal' kantha is a hand kerchief with a floral border and a corner motif. 'Bayton' kantha is a piece of embroidered cloth used to cover books. 'Arshalita' kantha is a narrow strip of embroidered cloth with broad borders used to hold accessories like mirrors,combs etc. 'Arshalita' kantha is an envelope shaped wallet .
The common motifs used in Kantha embroidery are lotus,fish,peacock,bull,tiger,pipal leaf,ship,snake,elephant.Also vines,flowers,human figures,geometric motifs are widely used.
Kantha Embroidery Sal FAQ
I have received few e-mails with some queries about this sal. I thought it would be better if I answer them here so that it'll be helpful for others with the same queries and also on a personal note it saves me some time.
- To participate in this sal you have to sign up by either leaving a comment with your e-mail id or e-mail me at email@example.com . If you'd already left a comment in the previous post with your e-mail id that's okay too.
- You don't have to buy a kit or pattern from me to participate in this sal. It is totally free of cost.
- I'll start sending the pattern via e-mail to all the participants this week end.
- It's suitable for all level embroiderers.
- You will need a close weave cotton or silk fabric,stranded cotton threads/embroidery floss,hoop or frame,mechanical pencil and light box if needed,scissors,crewel needles no.7 or 8.
- Regarding the size of the fabric – you can decide it after you receive the pattern by yourself.I'll be making an iPad cover out of this project so I will be choosing a size that suits my iPad.But you could also stitch this on a pillow/cushion cover,dress,frame it,use it in a cq block etc.I'll let you know about my fabric choice and the size required for my iPad and feel free to contact me if you need any help with figuring out the size of fabric needed for your project.
Please let me know if we give two weeks time to gather all the materials will be enough and start stitching from the first week of March is okay with you all.