It is a saree with a type of traditional, extremely intricate embroidery done by hand on either cotton or silk fabric. It is a saree that is germane to West Bengal and to Bangladesh. It is a saree that takes weeks or even months to create. It is the Kantha Saree, with the word, “Kantha” in Bengali meaning “an embroidered quilt.”
The traditional form of “Kantha embroidery” is done on dhotis and sarees. Hence these sarees are called Kantha Sarees. This embroidery employs a simple, running stitch along the edges of the saree, or then on the entire saree. This running stitch is typically done by hand by rural women, and the intricacy of the embroidery determines how “heavy” or “light” the Kantha Saree is. Interestingly, this embroidery dates back to ancient times in India, to around the First and Second A.D.
The beautiful and traditional motifs embroidered onto the Kantha Saree include flowers, animals, birds, and geometrical shapes and the stitching on the cloth of the saree gives it a wrinkled look.
The Kantha Saree, especially the Kantha Silk Saree is seen and experienced as an original art form and is even seen as an invocation to the deities for the guidance, well-being and protection of the family.
The Kantha Saree is worn by women during auspicious occasions, such as weddings, childbirth and other ceremonies or functions of religious nature. The Kantha embroidery patterns on these sarees are inspired from the scenarios which are prevalent in daily life.
There are about seven variants of Kantha stitches which are the Lep Kantha, the Sujani Kantha, the Baiton Kantha, the Oaar Kantha, the Archilata Kantha, the Durjani Kantha, and the Rumal Kantha. These different stitches are used to create different kinds of objects, such as sarees, pillow covers, quilts, bed covers, and more.
Kantha Sarees have taken the fashion industry by storm, with many Indian and Western fashion designers creating sarees and other dresses with Kantha embroidery. With younger fashion designers, the motifs used in Kantha embroidery are also changing, depicting cave art, Hindu mythology, Egyptian murals, and even pop art.
Kantha Sarees do not require any additional ornamentation or accessorising in order to look good since the rich embroidery makes them look complete in themselves. Also, maintaining a Kantha Saree is not really complicated as you can hand or machine wash this saree, and the embroidery will not fray or fade.
While initially, Kantha embroidery was only done on cotton or silk, however, as the industry undergoes a change from time to time, it is now being applied to other multiple fabrics like chiffon, georgette, and crepe. Kantha Sarees are popular among women of all ages and backgrounds. Kantha Cotton Sarees can be worn at work for that important office meeting, or then, Kantha Silk Sarees can be worn for weddings and other special functions.
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