What is kantha?
Kantha is a time-honored artistic technique practiced for centuries by skilled Indian artisans. Each piece is hand-crafted with running "Kantha" stitch.
Started making baby quilts with discarded, unused saris and other materials (recycled centuries ago) now kantha throws and blankets. Collect saris, patch worn areas, stack 2, 3, 5 layers and stich them together with “kantha” stiches. Rural artisan tradition is still alive. Employs mainly women.
Kantha embroidery craft from Bangladesh, and Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha, and Tripura. Kantha work is extremely popular and enhanced on saris and other attire. It is sought after because kantha intricate designs are handstitched.
India, a land of spices, bright colors, and hidden treasures, is one of the world's oldest civilizations. Kantha, a symbol of India, celebrates the lifestyle and handiwork of the women, preserving the art of the Indian ancestors.
During British rule in India, other stitches started making an appearance. Cross stitch, herringbone, and satin stitches filled in the shapes outlined by the traditional running stitches.
The traditional form of Kantha embroidery, where a running stitch along the edges layers soft dhotis or saris together, is known as Lepkantha or Sujni Kantha.
The Kantha is functional, as well as an expression of beauty. There are different names for Kanthas according to their use:
- Nakshi Kantha: simple quilts
- Lep Kantha: a thick and warm wrap used as a blanket
- Arsilata Kantha: to cover a mirror
- Bayton Kantha: to cover food plates
- Durjani Kantha: a handbag
- Sujni Kantha: big bedspreads in Bihar where the motifs are outlined in black and filled with colorful stitches. The GI Act of India protects this art form.
In Bangladesh, waves serve as inspiration, while the Bengali people revere fish as a staple food symbol. The Star is a popular Muslim motif, whereas, for the Hindu, the Lotus is a symbol of birth and life from Water and Sun.
Other motifs include the ancient Svastika (happy beginnings), Tree of life (fertility and prosperity), and Chakra or wheel (continuation of life and discipline).
Kantha (also spelled Kanta, and Qanta) is still in daily use and is very popular with tourists.
offers a large a variety of Kantha products to take home the art of the Indian ancestors. It is impressive how this ancient artform has retained its allure even to today.