The Kantha Tradition
Kantha is a centuries-old tradition of stitching patchwork cloth from rags, which evolved from the thrift of rural women in the Bengali region of the sub-continent - today the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Orissa, and Bangladesh. One of the oldest forms of embroidery originating from India, its origins can be traced back to the pre-Vedic age (prior to 1500 BCE).
"Kantha" refers to both the style of running stitch, as well as the finished cloth. It was a craft that was practiced by women of all rural classes, "the rich landlord’s wife making her own elaborate embroidered quilt in her leisure time and the tenant farmer’s wife making her own thrifty coverlet, equal in beauty and skill." It was never commissioned by kings, nor ordered by landed gentry, but passed down in learning and dowry from mother to daughter.
Kantha comprises of the simplest stitch in the language of embroidery – the running stitch. It is the way in which this stitch is used, in different arrangements, that forms the complex vocabulary of kantha.
In modern usage, kantha more generally refers specifically to the type of stitch used. The earliest and most basic kantha stitch is a simple, straight, running stitch, like the type used on our Kantha Collection Pantaloons/Palllazo Pants.