CRAFTS OF INDIA / KANTHA / MAINTENANCE
Maintaining the quality of a Kantha blanket or even a Kantha saree is not complicated. Any special trick of the trade is not required to keep it in a good condition. Normal hand or machine wash would be adequate and would not ruin the longevity of the fabric or embroidery.
• Kantha is a form of embroidery often practised by rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done with soft dhotis and saris, with a simple running stitch along the edges. Depending on the use of the finished product they were known as LepKantha or Sujni Kantha.
• The embroidered cloth has many uses including women's shawls and covers for mirrors, boxes, and pillows. In the best examples, the entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals birds and geometrical shapes, as well as themes from everyday activities. The stitching on the cloth gives it a slight wrinkled, wavy effect.
• In Sanskrit, the word “kontha” means rags.
• Kantha is the most popular form of embroidery in West Bengal and has been around for more than 500 years.
• Initially Kantha was used on cotton or silk. But now it is used on other fabrics as well like Georgette, crepe and chiffon.
• Kantha is embroidery in eastern South Asia, especially Bangladesh and parts of West Bengal and Odisha. In Odisha old saris are stacked on each other and hand-stitched to make a thin piece of cushion. This is normally used above a bed cushion or instead of a cushion. "Kantha saris" are traditionally worn by women in Bengal.
• Kantha stitching is also used to make simple quilts, commonly known as Nakshi Kantha. Women in Bengal typically use old saris and cloth and layer them with Kantha stitch to make a light blanket, throw or bedspread, especially for children.
• Kantha is very popular with tourists visiting Bengal and is a specialty of Bolpur, West Bengal, India.
• Kantha also means "throat". The name Nilakanth is given to Lord Shiva, literally meaning "blue throat" after he swallowed the poison that resulted from the churning of the ocean, or "Throat chakra". Kantha is also used as an adjective to describe a style of necklace that lies close to the throat, open at the back.
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