Kantha embroidery is an immensely popular form of embroidery, which is widely prevalent in the Indian subcontinent. In India, it is predominantly used in West Bengal and Odisha, which makes this embroidery form somewhat of a novelty in this country. This is one of the reasons why more and more women want kantha work when they are looking to wear something slightly different from the prevailing norm in Indian ethnic fashion.
This work is mainly characterized by the vast usage of the running stitch, which is used to create different forms of kantha embroidery designs. They, in turn, create different looks. Since the running stitch is one of the easiest stitches that are used to make garments, the overall look of this type of saree is extremely simplistic, albeit highly distinctive in its own right. Interestingly, older sarees made with this type of embroidery are reused by women in Odisha in a unique manner.
They are tightly packed and stacked together to create small, light cushions that can be used throughout the home. It gives an extremely personal touch to the decor. This stitch or embroidery form was originally used by women in order to join different old or discarded sarees. This would invariably be used to create a warm quilt.
The term kantha embroidery itself includes many variations of this embroidery. In this regard, there are seven main types that are widely used in Indian ethnic fashion for contemporary and traditional designs. The first is the Lep Kantha. Herein you have rectangular wraps that were originally used to create warm coverlets.
When garments are created using this embroidery, they are stitched by using wavy designs with a slightly rippling effect. Additional embroidery can be executed over these designs as long as they are simple. The Sujani Kantha is also one of the extremely popular kantha embroidery patterns. In this design, the fabric is predominantly used as a blanket or as a spread that can be laid down during ceremonial occasions. They are always rectangular in shape.
Distinct Kinds of Kantha Embroidery
The Baiton Kantha is among one of the most colorful forms of kantha. This version has rows and rows of colorful designs created all over it in vertical or horizontal stripes. Oaar Kantha is used while designing different types of pillows. In this design, the borders of the main body are simplistic yet very visible. The Archilata Kantha is used to create different covers for items like mirrors and have wide, colorful borders with different types of motifs on them.
These motifs are one of the main identifying characteristics of this form of kantha design. The Durjani or the Thalia is also another easily identifiable form of this embroidery as it consists of lotus buds that are created on the fabric along with embroidered borders. Finally, the Rumal Kantha form is used to create kerchiefs and also have a central lotus design.
While all of the embroidery forms have different uses, they can also be incorporated as design elements that can be used on kantha embroidery sarees or even Kantha embroidery suits. These can be used to create different interesting and unique looks. As Kantha sarees are not portrayed that heavily in mainstream Indian fashion when it comes to representing the Bengali culture, as compared to something more known like the tant saree, they are still considered a novelty when worn.
One of the most defining characteristics of the kantha embroidery is that it is highly simplistic and quite delicate in appeal. This means that even kantha fabric entails the same aspects. Designers do not require sturdy fabrics to support this embroidery. As a result, most women prefer adding an element of finesse with the help of heavier, richer forms of Indian jewelry. This can include anything from a Kundan set with intricate necklaces, bangles and earrings and also something comparatively lighter like a meenakari set with fewer elements of jewelry worn.
With most sarees, high heeled shoes are the most appropriate as they add to the fall of the saree and the height of the woman wearing them, of course. Thus, kantha embroidery sarees are worn with the most appropriate footwear.
On the other hand, with kantha embroidery suits, women can get away with wearing both, stilettos or flat V shaped footwear as well as the garment does not require the added inches to look more glamorous. Since embroidery is one of the most popular elements to come out of West Bengal and Odisha, it can be worn in Bengali events.