Kantha embroidery is an indigenous household craft that is now an art form – due to its uniqueness, its ability to tell a story and as a form of personal and artistic expression.
For those who haven’t encountered the raw, indigenous simplicity of Kantha – a speciality of the Bolpur Santiniketan region in West Bengal in India, hailed as one among the more creative styles of desi embroidery – let this writer be the first to tell you, that to start collecting it, is to be indeterminately hooked to procuring more and more.
The humble running stitch can be seen today, effortlessly gracing ramps, working its way into haute couture labels, and for some, is the crown jewel in their personal collection of beautiful textiles. To think, that it all began when housewives in Bengal decided to mend a tear, upcycle old or worn fabric by embroidering traditional motifs over it, and padding together patchwork, layering and quilting to create warm rajais for the winter months, boggles the mind. And yet, those are in fact, its origins.
Today, the best examples of the unassuming running stitch being given a modern day spin – a facelift if you will – until it sits ever so graceful and poised in it’s own unpretentious skin, among the hip, the impossibly elegant and dazzlingly chic, are seen when it’s pared down to its bare bones. This is the stuff that dreams and makeovers are made of!