Kantha embroidery is a traditional art that originated in the West Bengal region of India. It uses primarily a running stitch, often employed in hand stitching and to form the basis for more complex stitching. The stitches are sewn in equal lengths in an even pattern. Kantha embroidery traditionally features animals and flowers or people and mythological figures. It may also be used to create geometric patterns and decorate pillows, bedding or clothing, particularly the traditional Indian sari worn by Bengali women.
Many of the common types of Indian stitching are also common to the rest of the world. India is renowned for its embroidery, and many other cultures learned and still use stitching created in India for the purpose of embroidery. Several types of Indian stitching correspond to the principal forms of embroidery work in which they are used.
Kantha Embroidery and the Running Stitch
Zardozi Embroidery and the Chain Stitch
An ancient form of embroidery, zardozi employs the chain stitch, the oldest of the decorative stitches. The chain stitch was created in India and is done with a crochet or tambour hook. It is used for intricate designs on heavier fabrics such as velvet or silk. Originally invented for the preparation of royal garments, zardozi is used by many Indians for important social occasions like weddings. It is also employed in embroidering almost any kind of ceremonial clothing.
Chikankari Embroidery and the Buttonhole Stitch
A variety of stitches, including the running stitch, chain stitch and buttonhole stitch are used in chikankari embroidery. The buttonhole stitch is used in a free form style of stacked rows, which create texture and make the embroidered design stand out. Chikankari is favored embroidery for intricate and elegant designs of small flowers, leaves and geometric shapes. Developed in the state of Uttar Pradesh, it is sewn on fabrics such as cotton and chiffon, as well as synthetic materials.
Mirror Embroidery and the Satin Stitch
Another of the oldest stitches, the satin stitch, originated in Persia and India and is now used universally. Along with buttonhole and cross-stitching, satin stitching is used in Indian mirror embroidery. Satin stitch work is done by keeping straight stitches very close together and is ideal for anchoring decorative items to fabric. In mirror embroidery, small mirrors of various shapes and designs are applied to clothing, wall hangings and fashion accessories, such as purses. Mirror embroidery is popular in India and in the West as well.
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