A form of embroidery especially to make quilts, Nakshi kantha is often referred to as ‘painting with needle’, and is mainly comprised of cloth and thread-old cloth being used to make the motifs originally. The background was usually white and colored thread was used to embroider the designs on it.
A small running stitch form known as kantha stitch is used to create embroidered designs known as naksha or patterns – traditionally, first drawn on cloth with the outlines of the drawing then made by kantha or running stitch; the designs were ‘filled-in’ with colourful thread.
Like any other folk art, kantha making is influenced by factors such as available materials, daily needs, climate, geography, and economic factors, with the earliest form of kantha being the patchwork kantha; the kantha of the decorative appliqué type evolved from this.
Kantha embroidered quilts are often handed down from generation to generation and is treated as a part of family heirloom.
This art form is being pursued by many fashionistas such as Sarbari Dutta (-who is credited with the revival of Kantha stitch in West Bengal), and has consequently been enjoying pride of place on many fashion maps in recent times.
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