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Indian Embroidery Kasuti

Updated on December 15, 2008
lotus motif
lotus motif
Gopuram or temple top
Gopuram or temple top
Tulsi Vrindavan, the holy basil motif
Tulsi Vrindavan, the holy basil motif
border
border
Rath or chariot motif
Rath or chariot motif
woven effect
woven effect
birds
birds

Kasuti

Kasuti is a form of embroidery that comes from the state of Karnataka in India. It resembles the embroidery of Austria, Hungary and Spain. It is a domestic art that has now taken on commercial forms. Kasuti means embroidery in Kannada, the language that is spoken in Karnataka. Kasuti is also known as Kashida.

The Chalukya dynasty played an important role in the revival of art, culture and learning. They encouraged cults of lord Shiva and built temples all over the south; the prominent among these are the cave temples of Badami, temples of Madurai, Thanjore and Kanchipuram. The women who witnessed these building operations gave expression to their artistic urge through some colorful artwork such as Kasuti.

Hindu motifs are predominant in kasuti, muslim influence is completely absent. Factors influencing choice of motifs are religion, architecture and objects of daily use. They are taken from gopuram (temple tops) lotus flower, palinquin, cradles, birds and animals like- swans, peacocks, squirrels, elephants, nandi or sacred bull. One rarely finds lions, tigers and horses, but dogs and cats are never seen.

The stitches used are:

Gavanti: a double running stitch, the name is derived from the word gaonti which means knot. The design appears identical on both sides. Patterns are mostly geometric, stitches are worked in vertical, horizontal or diagonal directions only.

Murgii : appears like steps of a ladder, the design appears same from both sides of the fabric, the distance between two stitches is the same and looks quite like the gavanti.

Negi: this is an ordinary running or darning stitch, it has an all over effect of a woven design. The name comes from the word “ney” which means to weave in Kannada.

Menthi; this is the regular cross stitch. The name is derived from the word ‘fenugreek seeds’ in Kannada.

The threads used for embroidery were drawn from the fabric itself or they used silk thread from Mysore.

Colors used predominantly are orange, purple, green and red.

Women embroidered sarees, bonnets, skirts and blouses.

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    • profile image

      Vani 

      3 years ago

      Yes KASUTI is known as KASHIDA in Marathi. I am fluent in both languages and know both cultures well.

      Kasuti unites women across classes- my grandmother and her farm-hand- both discussed patterns. Most of the Kasuti was done during the 'sitting-out' time of monthly periods. Women embroidered on new piece of cloth- which was out of the list of things considered impure if touched.

      The favourite things to embroider were blouses, handbags, traditional baby hats called 'kunchigis' and game mats like 'pagadi'. Embroidering a saree took too long and was taxing- many women did not really have so many sarees to spare one for embroidery.

      The best Kasuti looked woven into the fabric and no one could make out the correct or wrong side of the cloth. Only few colours like white, red and yellow could be used.

    • profile image

      paxwill 

      5 years ago

      Very beautiful patterns, especially the border motif.

    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR

      Vibhavari 

      6 years ago from India

      Hi Nidhi,

      I am not at all wrong when I say Kasuti is also known as Kashida. In fact there is a very old marathi song/lavni that also supports my statement- the lines go as follows "....karnataki kashida me kadhila...hath naka laau mazhya saadila."

      I guess you need to verify your facts.

      Have a nice day.

    • profile image

      nidhi 

      6 years ago

      Kasuti is also known as Kashida. here u r absolutely wrong

      Kashida is kashmiri art work . othr than that gr8 work done by you

    • profile image

      Cross stitch 

      7 years ago

      Never heard of Kasuti, very interesting post, thank you

    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR

      Vibhavari 

      8 years ago from India

      Thank you elogo UK

    • profile image

      elogo UK 

      8 years ago

      good post and images used is really impressive i think those are gonna make some good logo with good impression on clothing.. elogo UK ..

    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR

      Vibhavari 

      9 years ago from India

      Hi Ria,

      thank u for stopping by. Yes, these images are from my journal, samples I embroidered when i was in college studying indian embriodery. The fabric that we used as students was the fine cross stitch fabric, but the proffessionals use finely woven silk or muslin. They have no visual guiding lines, just their eyes and there competence!

    • RiaMorrison profile image

      Ria Bridges 

      9 years ago from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

      Interesting, especially the images used. Quite inspiration for fellow embroiderers!

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