Kantha – Dexterous Design Created by Village Community In India



Kantha’ originates from Sanskrit, and the base term is ‘Kontha’, which when translated becomes ‘worn cloth’. The initial ‘Kanthas’ were the thrown away worn pieces of woven materials that were mended and stitched smartly. Now items like Quilts, Sarees, Blankets, Shawls, Throws are created with this technique.




Kantha’ is traditionally created in Santiniketan and Bolpur areas of West Bengal, and the typical running-stitch sewing method is applied for the same. Wearing sarees in which ‘Kantha’ is made use of is a time-honored habit of the rustic female folk of West Bengal. The first ‘Kanthas’ emerged in the opening period of the 19th century and for cross-stitching, black, blue and red threads were used. As a matter of fact, the early ‘Kanthas’ were the ones that were created using old saree cords; they had white backdrop and were highlighted by black, red, and blue running stitch.


Kantha technique:


The creation of ‘Kanthas’ entails well-defined procedures. Initially, the process of joining the sarees is done, and afterwards, it is evenly placed on the floor. Subsequently, the created piece is straightened by placing weights on the borders. Then the stitching work of the four borders is carried out, and just to maintain the merger intact, a few running stitches are created. Initially, images or patterns were not sketched; instead, outlines were created by hand using cords and needle. Then the mid designs were made and after that, the corner patterns.




Recognizing Kantha:


Kantha’ sarees have an alluring appearance, and this is due to the somewhat crimped and crumpled nature that is brought in by the application of running stitches that wraps up the full cloth. To add up the allure, diverse styles of stitches like ‘Satin’, ‘Darning’, ‘Loop’, and ‘Stem’ are also utilized. The sketching of designs relating to daily topics, birds, animals, geometrical forms, flowers, etc is done using ‘Stem stitch’. In general, the designs that are used to adorn the center part are images of flowers, fishes, birds, etc. Varied color cords are used including red, blue, black, and green.


Visit Sanskriti website; you can see the close range images of ‘Kanthas’, wherein the weaving pattern can be overtly observed. We also handle ‘Printed Sarees’, in which ‘Kantha Stitches’ are used for outlining the figures.





Kantha Types:


Normally, there are eight styles of ‘Kanthas’.


  • Lep Kantha - Here, the wraps are rectangular and the item is thickly cushioned. This is generally used to make Kantha bedspread, Kantha Quilts, Kantha blankets with plain running stitches.

  • Sujani Kantha – These have rectangular shape and will serve the purpose of comfy Kantha blankets (can be also used as spreads for special functions).


  • Baiton Kantha – In this one, the outlining work is done ornately, using numerous colorful motifs. This Kantha will be handy for varied requirements like ‘book wrapping’, ‘designing cute pouches’, etc.


  • Oar Kantha – These are rectangular pillow cases. The pattern is plain, but with ornamental bordering works.


  • Archilata Kantha – Very good for jacketing little items such as small boxes, mirrors, etc.


  • Durjani Kantha - This can be utilized for designing attractive wallets or bags; the pieces come in rectangle shapes and generally have central designs of flowers or lotus.

  • Nakshi Kantha – This phrase is a derivative of Bengali word ‘Naksha’, which means ‘geometric designs’. These carry attractive designs that are created using varied color combinations and different geometric shapes.


  • Rumal Kantha - Richly decorated borders and the design of lotus in the middle are the special features of this Kantha. This is used as an imbibent, or for covering the plates.



Interesting facts

  • A significant matter to note is that, the first mention of ‘Kantha’ was in a 16th century book (Author – Krishnadas Kaviraj, Book – Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita).

  • The word ‘Kantha’ got originated from the Hindi word ‘Katha’, which means story. This is because, some kind of a story is depicted in all ‘Kanthas’, using various representative designs.

  • Another notable fact is that ornamented ‘Kanthas’ are useful in various ways; they can be used as bedspreads, pillow cases, quilts, shawls, dupattas, bags, box covers, mirror covers, and sarees.

  • Please refer http://www.sanskritivintage.com/collections/kantha for the  our collection of items on Kantha work


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