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Kantha

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Shop Threads of Bengal in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar
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Shop A Celebration of Nature and Life in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar
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Shop Tree of Life in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Tree of Life in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Planet in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Planet in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Galaxy in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Galaxy in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Motifs in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Motifs in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Fishes in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Fishes in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Birds on a Pot in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

Birds on a Pot in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar

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Shop Birds and Snakes in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar
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Shop Geometric designs in Kantha by Mahamaya Sikdar
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KANTHA MASTERCLASS (ON DEMAND, PRE-RECORDED, SELF PACED)

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Step into the world of Kantha embroidery with master artist Mahamaya Sikdar. In this Masterclass, Mahamaya Sikdar shares the time-honored techniques and profound history of Kantha art. Through her empowering...

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Buy Jagannath Rath Yatra in Kantha Embroidery
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Shop Lord Buddha in Kantha Embroidery
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Shop Bird in Kantha Embroidery
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Shop Krishna Leelas in Kantha Embroidery
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Shop Musicias in Kantha Embroidery by She Kantha
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Shop Tree of Life artwork in Kantha Embroidery
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About Kantha

Kantha embroidery is an indigenous household craft initially practiced by rural women of Bengal and Orissa. It involves layering up soft and worn-out clothes using a simple running stitch with colorful threads. A usual Kantha cloth has a slightly wrinkled and wavy appearance and the designs are identical on both sides. Nevertheless, each piece of Kantha is unique as there are no formal rules and all the elements like color, composition, and techniques depend on the craftsman.

History and Legend

Kantha may owe its name to kontha, the Sanskrit word for rags. The history of Kantha traces back to ancient Bengal, where women would skillfully stitch together layers of old saris and dhotis to create beautiful quilts. Originally, Kantha served as a means of recycling worn-out garments, transforming them into stunning pieces of art. Over time, this craft evolved beyond its utilitarian purpose, becoming a cherished tradition passed down through generations from mother to daughter.

Based on a legend, print Siddharta (who later became Mahatma Buddha) was donned only in a ‘chhinna Kantha’ or tattered Kantha, when he left his home in search of ultimate truth. The great thinker and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore also wrote about this incident in his poem Ebar Phirao Morey.

Technique

Kantha embroidery encompasses a wide range of products, including sarees, dupattas, quilts, and wall hangings. The identity of Kantha embroidery lies in its distinctive running stitch, known as "Kantha stitch." Traditionally, this stitch is executed by hand using a fine needle and colorful threads. The artisans skillfully create intricate patterns and motifs, ranging from floral designs to geometric shapes, using variations of the basic running stitch. The choice of material often reflects the regional variations within Kantha craft, with each region showcasing its distinct motifs and color palettes.

FAQs

Kantha embroidery draws our attention to the resourcefulness of our women in the past, their sustainable way of living, and the socio-cultural life. The rural women reused the pieces of fabric, threads and fashioned them into a new product. Kantha is primarily a traditional embroidery craft from east and west Bengal, and parts of Bihar.
The craft has been around us for centuries, being passed on from generation to generation, but there is no known specimen earlier than 1800 CE.
Kantha embroidery draws our attention to the resourcefulness of our women in the past, their sustainable way of living, and the socio-cultural life
The rural women reused the pieces of fabric, threads and fashioned them into a new product.
There are different kinds of Kanthas which are made for different purposes. Lep Kantha – It is an embroidered wrap for body, to be used during winters. Oar Kantha – It is a rectangular pillow cover Sujni Kantha – The word sujni is derived from the word ‘sojan’ which means sewn cloth. It is an embroidered ceremonial wrap. It can also be used as a sitting mat to honour guests during ceremonial occasions such as weddings. These are also used as bed covers. These are generally rectangular in shape. Baytan Kantha – It is used as a wrap for books and valuables. These are generally square in shape. There is a wide border with several rows of human and animal designs. The centre has an elaborate lotus. Durjani Kantha – It consists of square wraps which are stitched together to form a wallet. It has an embroidered border and elaborate lotus in the middle. It can be used to hold rosary beads, betel nuts, money, etc. Arshilata Kantha – It literally translates to mirror Kantha, but its utility is to wrap and cover. These wraps are used for mirrors and combs, and are narrower and rectangular. It has a wide border on all four sides. Rumal Kantha – Like its name suggests, it is used as a handkerchief. Its centre consists of a lotus with other traditional motifs around it.

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