The Story of the Kantha

The Story of the Kantha

Our perpetual journey through design, fabric and colour brings us neatly to the story of the kantha where we wax lyrical about all our favourite things – colour, creativity and sustainable fashion.

Vintage Silk Kantha

Made from a blend of cotton, silk or muslin, kantha originated in rural Bengal. It is a type of embroidery distinctive for its patterned running stitch across the width of the fabric. We feature vintage silk kantha in our purses, bags and scarves, reflecting our dedication to bring something truly unique to the market.

The idea of kantha (from the Sanskrit for ‘rags’) began with frugal Bengali women many centuries ago. These women would use colourful thread to stitch together layers of old saris, dhotis and other castoffs to make blankets. They would use these blankets to keep their family warm. As one of the earliest examples of recycling, you can imagine how much we love this!

A Unique Fashion Statement

No two kanthas are the same as women have traditionally used the embroidery to tell their own personal story. They weave tales of daily life into the cloth and use the fabric to express their innermost desires, such as the wish to find a husband. Kantha allows every woman to freely express herself and to create intrinsic beauty in everlasting form. 

Women will often sew their ‘autograph’ into the embroidery and hand the kantha down through the generations for grandmothers, mothers and daughters to add their own story.

The vignettes and material of a kantha often reveal its geographical origins and the social ranking and religion of the weaver. Those made by Muslim women typically use geometric and floral patterns. Hindu women favour religious motifs, with the kantha often used at marriage and birth ceremonies.

Kantha is also believed to be highly spiritual, offering a prayer to the gods to encourage prosperity and keep loved ones safe. 

Handbags and Gladrags

Thanks to a rich, indigenous heritage and tradition that has transcended the class system, kantha exists in all forms. We have the classic and simple stitching from women in the poorer communities and the more elaborate styles created by elite women. In all cases, kantha is always fully embroidered on both sides.

The art of kantha has evolved over the years from a rural home craft into an urban commercial enterprise. It remains one of the most original forms of expression in the world. Kantha have come to be used not only as blankets but also as shawls, scarves, pillows, shirts and home furnishings.

Our purses are made from patched kantha scarves and our range of scarves includes handmade vintage silk kantha from India with additional embroidered detail.

Click here to explore our full range of kantha clothes and accessories. The kantha is a celebration of all the values that we hold dear: colour, life, fine craftsmanship and eco-conscious fashion. We hope you enjoy the journey!





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