The Kantha sarees have helped in keeping alive a folk art of Bengal. In recent times, there has been huge surge in demand for Kantha sarees of Bengal.
The old typical Kantha Motif designs are hand-embroidered to produce a number of items for modern urban use like saris, kurtas, salwars, lehenga, etc.
The Kantha stithed sarees are made of fine cotton and silk material. Since it is a traditional folk art, these are worn by Indian women during festivals, family meetings, and other cultural events. Kantha Sarees enhances the beauty and pride of a woman.
In the past few decades, many Indians have migrated from India to various parts of the world. There are colonies with Indian population in many parts of the world. People around the world that comes in contact with Indian community gets the opportunity to explore the varied handicrafts of India. The western people are increasingly showing their interest in Kantha sarees. Many western women make use of these sarees as a fashion attire.
Kantha Saree Fabric
New cotton and silk materials are used to produce these items. They are layered like the traditional Kantha. A major departure from the past is the use of new clothes for Kanthas. In India such Kanthas are being made in Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan also, apart from West Bengal.
Borders of Kantha Sarees
The art of needle work and hand embroidery in India reaches new height with Borders of Kantha Sarees. The borders of Kantha Sarees can be thin strips with single line designs or can be broad with several lines of designs, each different from the other. In some Kantha Sarees the same running design is placed around all four sides, while in others there are two longitudinal Saree borders and two other similar along the width of the saree fabric.
While designing the borders of Kantha Saree, the women do not always draw mythological symbols. Other design often made to appear in such Motifs – such as circle, flowers, Letter X, betel-leaf, barfi, butter-fly etc. Even Motif borders have designs of vegetables such as mango, bitter gourd, orange,pineapple etc.
Kantha Stitched Sarees
In Kantha Sarees, the traditional running stitch accompany other stitches such as the chain, herring-bone, double herring-bone and the cross . The Kantha stitches of sarees of West Bengal and Bangladesh are in keeping with modern art. Today the darning stitch is also being used in different ways.
Designer Kantha Sarees
The designs and motifs embroidered are no longer the self-expression of individual craftswomen. The Kantha workers are dictated by professional designers and are copied by embroiderers for mass production. This mass production of Kantha Sarees has opened new horizons and there is constant experimentation keeping in mind a market which has grown beyond national boundaries.
What was once an essential fork art is fast becoming an industry and at the same time retaining the old beauty. The way ‘Batik’ has gained international recognition has kindled new hopes for the Kantha sarees.