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Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka

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…

Kasuti embroidery on a saree border via
Kasuti embroidery on a saree border via
Kasuti needlecraft on a base of bright yellow via
Kasuti needlecraft, splashed across a bright yellow border via
Kasuti traditonal motif on a plain black saree ... love it ! via
Kasuti traditonal motif on a plain black saree … love it ! via
A Kasuti sling bag for when you are out and about...via
A Kasuti sling bag for when you are out and about…via
Kasuti on your dress...prettiness via
Kasuti on your dress…prettiness via
kasuti-embroidery-saree
Handwoven Saree with Kasuti embroidery via
Kasuti embroidery ... on a very elegant piece of silk via
Kasuti embroidery … on a very elegant piece of fabric   via
Kasuti on a royal blue fabric - is what you need on a dull day via
Kasuti on a royal blue fabric – is what you need on a dull day via
Stole a Stole, did you? Gorgeousness from KaiKrafts via
Stole a Stole, did you? Gorgeousness from KaiKrafts via

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…

Shilpa xx

 

Cover Image: via

 

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  1. Kasuti is indeed more famous in Dharwad…Apart from Kai krafts we have SEWA n many other NGOs which are involved in reviving kasuti..Almost every woman in Dharwad owns a piece of this beautiful heritage .Every local shop sells Kasuti sarees n dress materials on silk n many other materials…Welcome to Dharwad…

    1. That is really good to know. I had no idea about Dharwad being the ‘hub’ for this wonderful embroidery. We will surely consider writing about it at some point. Thank you very much for sharing this information.

      – Shilpa

    2. Hello, Dr Kulkarni, we ourselves were in Dharwad to buy pure irkal saris for getting Kasuti done…other than Kai krafts can you let us know contact numbers of other NGOs etc who do Kasuti. It would be a big help to us. Thank you very much..

      1. Hi Sharmila, unfortunately, we know of Kai Krafts primarily. We would be on the lookout and would let you know if we do come across more people working with Kasuti embroidery!

  2. Article with good knowledge of Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka, thanks for sharing it. whether it is possible to print them in block printing process. Like very much. handblockprint

  3. Best Indian passion…best encouragements/respect of handloom weavers ..

  4. Thank You for this lovely insight on Kasuti. This article has been a strong stepping stone for me to find knowledge of Indian artistic textiles.
    Namastey
    Very Warm Regards to you

    1. Hi Harshita,

      So lovely to hear from you. We are so glad that you enjoyed reading our post. Comments like these encourage us to keep going.

      Hope to see you here again soon.

      Namaste and very warm regards to you too,
      Nupur & Shilpa

  5. Hi Shilpa, you have put together such beautiful weaves on this website. This is a lovely site…Where Can i get the contacts of these artisans?