At Afleure, we continuously strive to bring you products that are distinctive and unique compared to those commonly found in the US market. We do this by traveling all over India, meeting artisans in remote villages, observing them put their fine handcrafting skills into action, and getting our hands on the range of fabrics that they create. During one such recent exploration, we came across the style which we are excited to offer as our upcoming collection – Kantha.
Kantha is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Kontha’ which means ‘rags’ or ‘patched garment’. Today, kantha refers to a type of embroidery in eastern India and Bangladesh in the form of a simple running stitch, worked by passing the needle in and out of the fabric in varying patterns. The length of the stitch is not measured, hence it may not be the same throughout the embroidered fabric. Its beauty is enhanced when more thread is seen on the fabric, with identical intervals which create intricate and eye-catching patterns and designs. Varying motifs can be created using the same stitch.
While Kantha’s origin can be traced back to pre-Vedic era (almost 1500 BC), modern Kantha’s roots go back about 500 years when women would create simple wraps, quilts or blankets by layering several fabrics and embroidering them together while also creating decorative designs. These designs were based on simple motifs derived from symbols of nature such as the sun, the moon, a tree, a fish etc. The embroidery skill was preserved over generations by passing on from grandmother to mother, to daughter and to granddaughter.
Kantha disappeared in early 1900 due to a lack of demand and was revived by the efforts of Guru Rabindranath Tagore’s daughter-in-law, Protima Devi. In modern times, the appeal of kantha has started to grow again with many contemporary designers using kantha embroidery in their products like clothes, home furnishings, beddings, and fashion accessories. A modern version of kantha, Nakshi kantha, uses colorful embroidered patterns and designs that narrate a story.
Even in today’s modern India, a grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s old cotton sarees are used to make warm blankets for babies. The layers of old sarees are embroidered together with a simple running stitch. As sarees age, the cotton fabric becomes more and more soft with each wash, making it safe for baby’s soft and delicate skin. This is also a great way to upcycle old sarees.
Kantha embroidery is generating steady income for many women in the rural part of east Indian states and in Bangladesh. Women spend 3-4 hours every day for this work and usually they work from home. Many nonprofit organization with a mission of women empowerment support their craft and help them find embroidery work.
Our upcoming Kantha collection has some basic as well as intricate embroidery patterns and motifs that go very well with modern lifestyle and home décor trends. We are sure that you love the way they enhance your living space and take it to the next level. They meet the same high standards of craftsmanship, quality, attention to detail, and value that you have come to expect from all our products.
And this is just the beginning of our Kantha journey. We will continue to bring you more innovative Kantha designs so that your living space will always continue to have the unique and distinctive look that have grown to appreciate.