Living traditions of embroidery in India demonstrate the validity of one of the world's richest cultural expressions. It was a language used by women to communicate their wisdom and the values they protect and nurture for themselves and their families.
Bengal embroideries were commissioned by Portuguese and English at Satgaon, the mercantile capital of Calcutta then. Known as the quilts, they consisted of large-sized bedspreads, wall hangings and shawls.
The quilted embroidery of Bengal was known as Kantha. Notable for their distinctly folk designs, it was made by the country women as cradle clothes, bedspreads, mostly as domestic gifts.
The kanthas were made of several layers of old and discarded white cotton men's dhotis and coloured threads were used for embroidery.
Kanthas infused the vitality and spontaneity of folks art - no two kanthas are alike. The motifs illustrate Hindu myths and rituals, scenes from everyday life, archaic figures of humans, animals and birds.The "running stitches" impart a distinctive character to the kanthas. It is used for filling in big and small areas of patterns, closely followed by parallel stitches in white. this produces an effect of modelling on the textured surface.
This work has patrons all over India, who treasure their silk embroidered kantha saris as prized possessions.
Here’s a look at the various designs of kantha embroidery borders.