I realized this morning that I had not written about a specific craft of India in a long time! How terrible of me and I apologize profusely for this. I make up for this mistake in this very post, with one of the best kind of embroideries, that has ever originated in India. Today, I will be talking about the very unique and stunning Kasuti embroidery. Do you own something with this traditional style of needlecraft from Karnataka?
The history of Kasuti embroidery goes back to the Chalukya period dating between the 6th and the 10th century. The word Kasuti comes from a combination of two words ‘kai’ (meaning hand) and ‘suti’ (meaning cotton). This form of embroidery is created typically using very bright colours and has the potential to create as many as seven hundred distinct designs! Did you know that it has a similar appearance on both sides of the cloth? That makes life simple, doesn’t it? It certainly does for me.
I am told that, traditionally a black saree with a red border from the Ilkal region of Karnataka, of course with Kasuti embroidery was given as a gift to the brides and a beautiful saree blouse called ‘Kanas’ from Ilkal was embroidered with Kasuti embroidery for a pregnant lady. This makes me think that there must be some ‘lucky’ factor associated with Kasuti. I don’t know this for a fact but then who knows? I think this point alone should convince you to get something with this needlecraft! Infact, even the domestic animals were often gifted a cloth for protection purposes with Kasuti as a reward for being loyal. That’s how important the tradition of this embroidery is…and it goes back all the way to the 17th century, where royal costumes were created using this form of needlework.
The highlight of this are the four basic stitches. ‘Ganti’, ‘Muragi’, ‘Neygi’ and ‘Menthe’ which means knot, zig zag, weave and a fenugreek seed. Typically, all four stitches are used together on a saree, using just an ordinary needle! If you fancy having a go yourself, then get some brightly coloured threads, a needle, a cloth and click on this tutorial … Happy days! Before you do so, have a quick peep at the vast choices of end products you can create with just a needle and a thread…
This art needs to be revived and the craftsmen be allowed to earn a fair living…you can all help in several ways and the easiest of all, from the comfort of your homes is to own a piece of Kasuti. You can do this by clicking away at either Clickhubli, Itokri or the Tadpolestore (Look out for pieces from the very talented team at Dori Designs). If you run a store, then you can also order in bulk and learn more about the people involved, by simply visiting KaiKrafts. KaiKrafts is doing some great work in helping the artisans of this fine needlecraft. Now is your chance to help them to help themselves…after all, you are notjustashopper…you are so much more…
Cover Image: via