I was first introduced to Kasuti, when Avantika on one of her travels to North Karnataka sent me pics of beautifully embroidered sarees. We both drooled over the rich motifs and just knew, this was something we needed in our collection as well.
The embroidery stood out because of its preciseness. One look and you knew this kind of art not only required creativity but mathematical precision, of course on researching further, we discovered that the geometrical motifs intrinsic to Kasuti art form required a lot of calculation in addition to neat needlework.
The name Kasuti is derived from the words Kai (meaning hand) and Suti (meaning cotton), indicating an activity that is done using cotton and hands.
The history of Kasuti dates back to the 6th and 10th century under the Chalukya period.
It is believed that the women courtiers in the Mysore Kingdom, in the 17th century were expected to be adept in 64 arts, with Kasuti being one of them.
It is also said that the Lambani clan left their traditional home of Rajasthan and settled down in Karnataka and brought the Kasuti craft along with them.
Practiced only by women, Kasuti as an art form has survived generations, handed down by the mother to her daughter. It is most popular in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Kasuti work is very laborious and intricate. It involves counting of each thread of the fabric being embroidered, only then can the finesse be ensured.
sometimes involves putting up to 5,000 stitches by hand. The patterns are stitched without using knots to ensure that both sides of the cloth look alike.
The motifs used in Kasuti are inspired by the village life, the surroundings and the religious beliefs of the women who practice the artform. These usually include, gopurams of temples, the chariot and palanquin in which the deity is carried on ceremonial occasions, birds of different kinds, animals and flowers, the cradle, anklet-bells, palanquins and other articles of everyday use.
Our first project using Kasuti as a medium was to create throw cushions in silk and Khun fabric, needless to say we sold out.
Over the years Kasuti has managed to evolve as an artform, it is going beyond the realm of Sarees and soft furnishing, finding patronage among the fashion conscious, making its presence felt on fashion accessories that range from bags, clutches to belts and jewellery.
Even though there have been efforts to popularise this artform, lack of proper remuneration for the laborious work and the influx of machine made Kasuti products in the markets is slowly killing this traditional folk art. Customers aware of Kasuti, either don’t know how to distinguish between a handmade and machine made product or prefer to opt for the cheaper factory made Kasuti products over painfully made handmade ones.
Our only hope, discerning customers will realize the value of handmade goods and the effort that goes into creating something that is unique. If there is no love in creating something, how can it ever inspire.
Post By Merlin Francis