(Last Updated on : 20/11/2009)
Embroidery of West Bengal is well acclaimed all over India for the simplicity that is exhibited in the creations of the rural part of West Bengal.
The embroidery work of West Bengal includes the creations employing Kantha stitches. This embroidery is the most popular embroidery of West Bengal done with folk motifs that display the rural vicinity of the state. The local women are engaged in this type of embroidery work with the simple running stitches. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done in the soft dhotis and sarees. Sometimes this particular embroidery is applied to make quilts. In this form of embroidery, to make the embroidery perceptible, the outer layers of the cloth is made up with white or light colored clothes. The women create Lepkantha, Sujni Kantha etc with Kantha embroidery. This embroidery work is also used to create stoles and shawls which are intricately embroidered featuring various geometrical and traditional patterns. In addition to these, the artisans create an illusion by applying Kantha embroidery on woolen, cotton and silk shawls and give them a different look. Kantha embroidery is also done on covers for mirrors, boxes, pillows etc. The basic patterns of this type of embroidery are basically derived from the mundane world of the inhabitants of the village. Such stitches on the cloth give it a slight wrinkled wavy effect on the created items. Generally Kantha embroidery is done on sarees, dupatta, shirts for men and women, bedding and other furnishing fabrics using cotton and pure silk as raw materials.
Nakshi kantha is a prominent work of art that has secured a distinct position in the history of embroidery of West Bengal for its legendary tales. The 'nakshi kantha' shawls stand exemplary for the expression of culture and tradition of West Bengal depicted in the creations. The designs of geometric, symmetrical Kantha are derived from the traditional art of 'alpanas' (ritualistic drawings made on the floors to signify worship or celebration). The shawls of Kantha embroidery are identified for their unique use of colours and patterns.
Apart from Kantha embroidery, the artisans of West Bengal are adept in chikan work, the zari work and Kashida embroidery. White cotton thread on fine white muslin fabric is used in this type of elegant embroidery work. With the intelligent perception and creative ability, the artisans create exclusive shaded designs by varying the textures appropriately. Mainly done on muslin and cotton fabric, the chikan embroidery of West Bengal involves the usage of moga silk for outlining the embroidered portions of the created items and to give the items an added glitz. Though white on white is a popular combination other colored threads are also used in white cloth. The Kashida embroidery is done with silk yarns on cotton clothes and the created items of this embroidery work have a great demand in the local market. This type of embroidery is used on caps and scarves used by the Muslims for prayers. Including these, Kashmiri stitches, Cross stitches, Convent stitches, Cut work are added in the list of embroidery of West Bengal. The artisans of West Bengal create exclusive items executing Kathiawari mirror work that are hugely practiced in different regions of this state.
Embroidery of West Bengal is distinct in their style and presentation. The created items are exclusive and the manifestation of the tradition the state carries. The embroidered articles are highly sought after in the local and the Indian market as well.