Blog posts tagged with 'kantha'

Indian Embroidery

Indian Embroidery can be traced back to some examples found in the remnants of the Indus Valley civilization. This means it could be thousands of years old.

Mostly the embroidery during those times were geometrical patterns. It was the Mughal and Persian rule that introduced floral motifs into Indian embroidery resulting in the famous Phulkari embroidery.

Indian Embroidery are of various types, broadly classified by what they depict.
Embroidery that patronized the rulers and the royal court - examples are the Zardozi and Chikankari from Uttar Pradesh.
Embroidery that displayed folk tales or the rural life - example is the Katwa work from Bihar as well as Rumals depicting Mithila. Kutch embroidery is also a type of folk embroidery.

Temple Embroidery especially from Deccan region and South India - examples are Kasuti from Karnataka, Picchwai embroidery.
Trade embroidery that included quilting, mochi work, cushion work, curtain work etc.

So broadly Indian embroidery encompasses a whole lot of handiwork like cloth embroidery, quilting, gold and silver embroidery, mirror work, applique and patch work and many more styles.  Indian embroidery is not just restricted to fabrics but even to objects of daily use.  Every region and every artisan will have a story to say about the way the craft originated and evolved.

Kantha work from West Bengal is such a craft that has many stories about it.  The origin of the name itself has many versions.  Our artisans from Burdwan district say that the original needle used to do this embroidery was a long pointed needle called "Kaathi" in Bengali.  The name "Kantha" originated from this needle.  As for others, the name Kantha originated from a Sanskrit word that meant "rags" as the initial purpose of this form of embroidery was to stitch together several old and cast away saris or dhoti pieces together to form quilt covers, mats for religious functions etc.  Kantha work was mainly done for home use and slowly died out in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

But the revival of Kantha work has happened due to the efforts of several women who has made it valuable again for export purposes as well as for trade in the tourist market.  The fabric industry has also included this revival with beautiful sarees and dupattas featuring Kantha embroidery.

The traditional pattern of Bengal Kantha work has a Lotus in the centre and four buttis or trees at the corners, to symbolise the Universe.  The rest of the embroidery includes either nature or other religious scenes.  Generally the embroidery is formed by a simple running stitch design and then the details are filled with satin and stem stitch.

Initially Kantha was used on Cotton or Silk. But now it is used on other fabrics such as Satin, Crepe, Georgette etc.

It is not difficult to maintain a Kantha work saree.  We advise a first time Dry clean to preserve the cotton thread colours used in the embroidery.  For later washes, Normal hand wash with a delicate detergent is adequate and will preserve the longevity of the fabric as well as the embroidery.

Shubhsarini Collections has Kantha work sarees in Cotton as well as Satin made from artificial silk.

The Magic of Bengal Sarees

West Bengal has a rich and cultural heritage of Handloom Weaving. In fact, handloom weaving is the most widely practised occupation, next to agriculture. The handloom industry still remains a great employer of the rural sector of Bengal.  Santipur, Fulia in Nadia district, Dhaniakhali, Begampur in Hooghly district, Samudragarh, Dhatrigram, Katwa, Ketugram in Burdwan district, Bishnupur in Bankura district are the main handloom concentrated areas in the state of West Bengal.

Bengal Handloom Cotton and Silk Sarees have been pioneer sarees in the field of heritage handloom products of India, especially Jamdani and Tangail sarees.

"Jamdani" originates from a Persian word "Jam" meaning a cup and "Dani" meaning a container.  It is during the Mughal rule, especially during the reign of Emperor Akbar or Emperor Jahangir, the figured or flowered woven muslin cloth came to be known as "Jamdani". Jamdani weaving is one of the most time consuming and labour intensive form of handloom weaving that produces one of the most artistic textile from a Bengal weaver.

Jamdani weaving has an extra weft used to create the artistic motifs. The extra weft threads are usually thicker cotton threads that are added separately by hand to create intricate patterns to the fine fabric. These patterns are not sketched or outlined on the fabric, rather they are drawn on a paper kept underneath the warp.  This kind of weaving requires sheer skill and deftness of the hand that places the Jamdani weaver atop the list of fine artists.

'Tangail' originated from Tangail, a district of present Bangladesh. Previously it was named as "Begum Bahar" where silk warp and cotton weft were used. Later on, both cotton warp and weft were in vogue. The weavers were mainly of 'BASAK' community who migrated from Tangail district before partition of our country & settled in 'Katwa' Dhatrigram, Tamaghata, Samudragarh, area in Burdwan district.

At present, silk Tangail sarees have been revived. The technique of drawing and weaving of extra weft for figured Tangail sarees is more or less identical to Jamdani sarees. Silks of Bengal have been very much acclaimed since ancient times. The most well known Bengal silk saree which carry its popular name is Baluchari saree - a production of exclusive design and fabulous weaving technique. A revival in recent time of both the Baluchari and another out standing traditional Bengal saree - "Daccai" has lead to nation wide and world wide popularity and interest in Bengal silks.

Like silks,  cotton sarees are also woven in a fascinating and exquisite range. Bengal Tant sarees are woven from cotton yarn and are well known for its lightness and exquisite stitch embroidery. Bengal Tant sarees are the most comfortable sarees to wear to suit our hot and humid climate.

Bengal Ghicha Silk and Cotton sarees are also becoming quite popular these days. Ghicha is the name given to yarns that are not dyed when Tussar silk is reeled. Ghicha is thus a natural yarn that is durable and long lasting, obtained from a raptured cocoon. It is generally blended with cotton or pure silk sarees to create beautiful motifs, designs and borders too.

Shubhsarini Collections presents a range of Bengal Handloom sarees like Bengal loom Cotton Sarees, Silk Cotton sarees with applique work, Jamdani Sarees, Kaantha Stitch sarees, Goradh Silk sarees etc. We procure our Bengal handloom collection from Hat Kalna in Burdwan district.