The Kantha has evolved down the years but the basic charm of the embroidery remains the same as of old

Kantha

A creative outpouring born out of necessity…

Around the turn of the century, come winter, the womenfolk of Bolpur village in West Bengal would stack old sarees and bundle them together with a running stitch to create quilts. This simple creative outpouring born of necessity, soon began to be reproduced on sarees in cotton, tussar and silk.

Design motifs included flowers, birds, animal and human figures. Created by different craftswomen, no two Kanthas were the same. The Kantha saree evolved to embrace stronger base shades – originally the sarees were on light backgrounds to allow the embroidery, executed with threads extracted from old faded sarees, to show up. Designs too changed and the embroidery now includes contemporary abstracts and geometric patterns.

Of course the charming simplicity, the intrinsic appeal of a Kantha, remains, along with the fact that it’s still primarily hand embroidered. Incidentally, Bolpur where it all began, is just a stone’s throw from Rabindranath Tagore’s haven of creativity, Shantiniketan. Till date the womenfolk of Bolpur continue to carry forward their legacy of art…