Kantha is an ancient type of embroidery that started in India before 1500 BCE. Rural women would use old, recycled fabric and stitch it together to make new clothes for their families. The tradition of making Kantha throws eventually spread throughout Bengal and Orissa (in modern-day eastern Indian states) as well as Bangladesh.
Kantha as a craft was practised by women of all rural classes—from wealthy landlords' wives making elaborate quilts in their spare time to tenant farmers creating coverlets with equal skill and beauty, but out of thriftiness. It was never created for nor requested by the upper class but instead passed down through families from mothers to daughters.
There are six primary Kantha types, each with a unique purpose:
1. Sujani Kantha - Sujani is a type of embroidery done on saris, quilts, and even dupattas meant for ceremonial usage. This is why it is very precise.
2. Lep Kantha - Lep is a type of embroidery done on a pile of clothing to create dimension. The fabrics are sewn along the edges, and often, you will find some free-form embroidery throughout the piece. As they are quite bulky, lep Kanthas are typically used as quilts or comforters.
3. Baiton Kantha - Baiton typically covers books and other items. These Kantha throws usually have large, prominent patchwork embroidery or running stitch embroidery.
4. Archilata Kantha - This type of Kantha focuses on creating borderline embroideries in a variety of different designs and patterns. It is perfect for covering small mirrors or toiletries.
5. Oaar Kantha - This embroidery work features wonderful running stitch motifs that follow the borders of the rectangular or square-shaped pillow covers.
6. Durjani Kantha - This form of embroidery is characterised by a central lotus design, with wide borderlines to accentuate the artwork's beauty.
Buy vintage Kantha throws online.
Vintage Kanthas are produced with discarded saris and handmade by Bengali women. They are made of five to seven layers of old saris that have been stitched together with a simple running stitch. No two Kantha throws are alike; each one is unique! Drape them over the end of your bed, a couch or an armchair, or even use them as a tablecloth.