Creativity of Kantha

YuvaWave explores the beauty of age old tradition of kantha as the authentic and intricate embroidery reflects the rich handloom history of bengal.

One of the oldest forms of embroidery practiced in Bangladesh and West Bengal, Kantha embroidery is an art practiced by rural women of Bengal to adorn women’s shawls and covers for mirrors, pillow covers and storage boxes and most importantly to embellish sarees made out of various textures and fabrics, the most popular of them being Kantha silk sarees. Though Kantha embroidery consists of simple running stitches, it is rather laborious and time consuming. Born from pure imagination of rural women who adorn these Kantha sarees, Kantha embroidery portrays beautiful motifs and designs as it draws inspiration from day to day activities resulting in a close mesh of design in the form of beautiful flowers, birds and animal motifs or human figurines or even simple geometric patterns. The colored silken threads that run through the saree forming these lovely patterns are a treat to view. Eventually as Kantha embroidery gained cultural and religious significance, Kantha sarees gained popularity in religious ceremonies and pujas and auspicious occasions like wedding and child birth.

History of Kantha Silk Sarees

The origin of Kantha embroidery can be traced back to pre-Vedic era. In fact one can see that the symbols used in this form of embroidery are inspired by nature and ancient Indian art. In West Bengal as long as one can trace, this form of art was initiated by rural women who used this form of embroidery to make quilts and to adorn personal garments and fabrics such as sarees, dhotis and handkerchiefs. Interestingly, Kantha embroidery derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Kantha’ which has two meanings. The first one refers to it as ‘rags’ signifying the intent of its origin which was mainly to adorn old clothes and make meaningful and beautiful things out of old rags such as making colorful quilts from old dhotis and sarees etc. The second meaning refers to it as ‘throat’ due to its association with Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity who is also referred to as Neel Kantha after the epic Samudra Manthan episode of Hindu mythology.