Thirumalayampalayam department of costume design and fashion study material

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Motifs used in Kutch Work

The history of Kasuti dates back to the Chalukya period. Kasuti is a form of embroidery that comes from the state of Karnataka in India. It resembles the embroidery of Austria, Hungary and Spain. It is a domestic art that has now taken on commercial forms. Kasuti means embroidery in Kannada, the language that is spoken in Karnataka. Kasuti is also known as Kashida. The name Kasuti is derived from the words Kai (meaning hand) and Suti (meaning cotton), indicating an activity that is done using cotton and hands

The Chalukya dynasty played an important role in the revival of art, culture and learning. They encouraged cults of lord Shiva and built temples all over the south; the prominent among these are the cave temples of Badami, temples of Madurai, Thanjore and Kanchipuram. The women who witnessed these building operations gave expression to their artistic urge through some colorful artwork such as Kasuti. The women courtiers in the Mysore Kingdom in the 17th century were expected to be adept in 64 arts, with Kasuti being one of them. It is also said that the Lambani clan left their traditional home of Rajasthan and settled down in Karnataka and brought the Kasuti craft along with them. Sarees embroidered with Kasuti were expected to be a part of the bridal trousseau of which one saree made of black silk with Kasuti embroidery called Chandrakali saree was of premier importance.

Hindu motifs are predominant in kasuti, muslim influence is completely absent. Factors influencing choice of motifs are religion, architecture and objects of daily use. They are taken from gopuram (temple tops) lotus flower, palinquin, cradles, birds and animals like- swans, peacocks, deer, swan, squirrels, elephants, nandi or sacred bull. One rarely finds lions, tigers and horses, but dogs and cats are never seen.

Kasuti work involves embroidering very intricate patterns like gopura, chariot, palanquin, lamps and conch shells. Locally available materials are used for Kasuti. The pattern to be embroidered is first marked with charcoal or pencil and then proper needles and thread are selected. The work is laborious and involves counting of each thread on the cloth. The patterns are stitched without using knots to ensure that both sides of the cloth look alike. Different varieties of stitches are employed to obtain the desired pattern.

The stitches used are:

Gavanti: a double running stitch, the name is derived from the word gaonti which means knot. The design appears identical on both sides. Patterns are mostly geometric; stitches are worked in vertical, horizontal or diagonal directions only.

Murgii: appears like steps of a ladder, the design appears same from both sides of the fabric, the distance between two stitches is the same and looks quite like the gavanti.

Negi: this is an ordinary running or darning stitch, it has an all over effect of a woven design. The name comes from the word “ney” which means to weave in Kannada.

Menthi; this is the regular cross stitch. The name is derived from the word ‘fenugreek seeds’ in Kannada.


The threads used for embroidery were drawn from the fabric itself or they used silk thread from Mysore.


Colors used predominantly are orange, purple, green and red, lemon yellow, indigo etc.


It is mainly used on cotton material with silk thread. Silk material is also used, but now organdy is mainly used. Synthetic blender and spun material is also used.


Black, blue, dark colours

Women embroidered sarees, bonnets, skirts and blouses.

Kantha embroidery is a popular type of craft created in the West Bengal region of India and the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. It’s as popular as ever amongst rural women who keep the traditions of this special craft alive. Kantha can be translated as ‘patched cloth’ although in the ancient language of Sanskrit and with a slight spelling variation, Kantha also means ‘rags’. To the people of Bengal, the word is associated with ‘embroidered quilt’
In many ways this quilting craft can rightfully be called a recycling art form. This is due to the re-usability of this craft form where precious materials when worn or frayed, are stitched into a different format and used in another way. Traditionally, Kantha embroidery was created using soft dhotis (loin cloth) and saris. The thread that is used in this process is taken from the borders of the used cloth.

Kantha embroidered cloth has a wide variety of uses. As would naturally be assumed, women’s clothing such as shawls is a popular creation. Kantha can also be used in the making of covers for such items as pillows, boxes and mirrors. In the modern age, Kantha is used in the production of sarees, shirts, furnishings and bedding. Often, the entire cloth is decorated with beautiful motifs portraying flowers, birds, animals, geometric shapes and other cultural visions from daily life in West Bengal.

Kantha embroidery has a long history and is believed to have arisen with the way Bengali women mended old clothes. They would take out strands of thread from the borders of their colorful sarees and then create simple designs with them. The creations were known by different titles depending on what the item they created was. These names included Lepkantha and Sujni Kantha. Another simple fact for the development of Kantha embroidery was to keep out the cold during the winter months in this northern region of India.

There are in fact 7 forms of Kantha embroidery in West Bengal. These are as follows:

Archilata Kantha ~ these are small and are used in the creation of covers such as found for mirrors and various accessories. They have very colorful borders. These are used as cover or wrap for comb and other such articles. It is a narrow rectangular piece of 8’’ wide and 12” length. It has a wide border and the central motif is taken from the scenes from Krishna Lela. The lotus, tree, creepers inverted triangles, zigzag lines are also some of the commonly used motif.

Baiton Kantha ~ in a square format and used for wrapping and covering items such as books. They usually have very elaborate borders. It has a central motif usually the lotus with up to 100 petals called “satadala padma”

Durjani/thalia ~ quilted wallets created from rectangular pieces of Kantha fabric. It has the central lotus motif with elaborated border. The three corners of this piece are drawn together and invert to make together like an envelope. It will have an another open flap in which a string, tassels or a decorated thread is either stitched or mechanically fixed which can be wound and tied up when rolled. The other motifs used are various types of snakes and other objects taken from the natural surroundings.

Lep Kantha ~ these are heavily padded wraps in a rectangular format, used to make quilts especially for the colder months, during winter. A wavy pattern is used in the stitching and simple embroidery carried out on the completed quilt.

Oaar Kantha ~ Pillow covers. It is a rectangular piece whose size is about 2feet by 11/2feet.They have a simple design with a decorative border sewn on after completion and the motifs are creepers, birds or linear designs.

Sujani Kantha ~ decorative quilts which are used as spreads and even blankets. This is a relatively new form of Kantha embroidery which was started in the 18th Century, in Bihar. These are used for religious ceremonies and rituals.

Rumal Kantha ~ Plate coverings and absorbent wipes for cleansing. In the centre is featured a lotus with ornamented borders.

Kantha can also be used to describe a style of necklace that lies close to the throat and is open at the back. This form of the word is spoken as an adjective and means ‘throat’. Lord Shiva in fact had the name Nilakanth which means in literal terms “blue throat”. The connotation comes from the story of him swallowing poison which resulted from the churning of the ocean.

The material used is Dacca muslin saris, old and discarded cotton saris and dhotis, discarded cotton bed spreads.
The colours used are white, black, deep blue and red which symbolize the nature, earth, sky and space respectively.
They start working traditional by running stitch to get quilting effect followed by chain stitch later back, herring bone and satin.


Embroidery of Rajasthan brings new character and dimension to any article that it graces. It is an ancient craft, which has changed over time to reflect the prevailing social, material and sometimes even the political mood of the times. The needles on different cloths do the `embroidery` work.

The women of Rajasthan are expert in this field and can make very attractive embroidery works on various clothes like in quilts, skirts (gharries), shawls, bed covers and in many more others.

The most particularly ornamented fabrics and articles found in Rajasthan are often those for personal adornment. In Rajasthan, some form of embroidery invariably embellishes the three garments worn by women, the kanchli, ghaghra and odhni. Similarly men`s garments like the angarkha, achkan and jama also display certain elements of embroidery. It is also used to beautify the household items, like bedspreads, wall hangings and animal trappings. Where embroidery is done for domestic use, it is by custom a feminine occupation. Rajasthani Men, traditionally, were involved in embroideries like zardozi and danka. These crafts receive the patronage of royal families even today.

Embroidery of Rajasthan brings new character and dimension to any article that it graces. It is an ancient craft, which has changed over time to reflect the prevailing social, material and sometimes even the political mood of the times. The needles on different cloths do the `embroidery` work. The women are expert in this field and can make very attractive embroidery works on various clothes like in quilts, skirts (gharries), shawls, bed covers and in many more others.

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