Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kantha Stoles- The Beauty of Bengal

Kantha stoles are hand embroidered in kantha style of both east bengal (now Bangladesh) and west bengal in India.Bengal has an old tradition of Kantha embroideryKantha Embroidery enjoys international repute for the fineness of the fabrics woven in Dacca. With exquisite names like Running Water these were woven plain or patterned with thicker threads of white cotton providing opaque patterns on the fine cloth The jamdani again white on white, was woven by a brocading technique. The embroidery of Dacca followed the same process. The pallusand borders of Kantha sarees were finely embroidered with the motifs of the cypress, leaf and stem used by the weaver. Additionally the white on white was the natural colour of wild silk thread to provide richness and a light and shade effect to the work. Silver-gilt wire was sometimes used to enhance the effect.

The Bengal Kantha Embroidery is done on Shawls, sarees, coats, girdles in this way. Stem stitch, running stitch, long and short stitch, chain stitch, laid work of silver gilt wire over a padded foundation of yellow cotton thread all went to augment the woven design of the fabric for Kantha embroidery was done on both plain and patterned materials creating effects of subdued richness and elegance.

The tratition Kantha stitches can be found in modern Kantha Sarees, dupattas and stoles. Chain stitch, back stitch, knot stitch, open work produced by lines of back stitch pulled to produce small holes are all used in the natural colour of the silk.

TheKantha embroidery in Bengal is usually done in simple running and darning stitches worked through all the layers of the material to form a pattern both at the front and the back, is started at the centre usually with a lotus medallion. From this the work proceeds outward covering the whole surface with a variety of designs.
The surface not covered by the embroidery is often quilted with white running stitches made with five or six threads put into the needle to hold the material firmly together. The border is closely embroidered to provide a firm edge to the quilt. When the Kantha is finished it becomes a thick covering and it appears to be one piece of thick material rather than a number of fine ones welded together.
Kantha stoles today come in various types. The first type is handembroidered in silk in motifs of birds, and leaves. The second type is the reversible kantha stole. Made in soft cotton silk fabric these are first block printed to form the patterns and then these patterns are handembroidered. The reversible kantha stoles are extremly soft and can be worn around the neck with a western dress as well in addition to the Indian salwar kameez and kurtas

The same tradition of quilting and embroidery, though in a more folkish form has persisted inKantha Quilts of Bengal. The Kantha used as quilt, shawl, handkerchief, pillow cover, cover for mirror, combs and toilet articles, is made entirely by women and is a marvellous example of the recycling of waste material towards the production of artistic goods. Old, worn out sarees and dhotis are placed one above the other, the best ones on top, the rest providing the filling. The borders have previously been unpicked to yield the thread which would be used for the embroidery. The word Kantha itself means patched cloth.

Nakshi kantha is a very popular form of kantha embroidery.The colourful patterns and designs that are embroidered resulted in the name "Nakshi Kantha", which was derived from the Bengali word "naksha", which refers to artistic patterns.[6] The early kanthas had a white background accented with red, blue and black embroidery; later yellow, green, pink and other colours were also included. The running stitch called "kantha stitch" is the main stitch used for the purpose.[7] Traditionally, kantha was produced for the use of the family. Today, after the revival of the nakshi kantha, they are produced commercially.

Motifs of the nakshi kantha are deeply influenced by religious belief and culture. Even though no specific strict symmetry is followed, a finely embroidered naksi kantha will always have a focal point. Most kanthas will have a lotus as focal point, and around the lotus there are often undulating vines or floral motifs, or a shari border motif. The motifs may include images of flower and leaves, birds and fish, animals, kitchen forms even toilet articles.While most kantas have some initial pattern, no two naksi kantas are same. While traditional motifs are repeated, the individual touch is used in the variety of stitches, colours and shapes

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