Also known as : Dharwari Kashidakari

embroidery sample: kasuti

About and History

Kasuti carries an  age old history. Knowing this history  and its contemporary state will help  us to value this embroidery much  more than ever. Using the logics  of basic holbein stitch, cross stitch and darning stitch, kasuti creates  designs that looks ethnic and intricate.

The word ‘Kasuti’ is believed to be a worn out variation of the word ‘Kasheeda’, which means ’embroidery’ in the Persian language. This is  a form of handembroidery done by the women of the villages that borders Maharastra and Karnataka, in India. This embroidery is done particularly in the village called ‘Dharwar’, and hence the alternate name : Dharwari Kashidakari (meaning, embroidery from Dharawar). The specialty of this embroidery is that it is still believed to be exclusively done by women!

This ancient form of embroidery began way back in the 6th- 8th century, during the reign of the Chalukyas. Considering that Kasuti is a derivative of a Persian word, it could be deduced that the Chalukyas had trade with the then Persian empire. It is a counted form of stitching which can easily be done over even weave fabric.

Kasuti uses four different types of stitches – Muragi, Ganti, Menthi and Neygi. These stitches have been discussed in detail with illustrations in Kasuti lesson 1. While Muragi and Ganti styles of stitches follow the holbein stitch logics, Menthi follows the cross stitch pattern. Neygi follows running stitch or the darning style pattern.

Kasuti today
With lack of facilities, proper funding and interest, this form of embroidery had seen a dwindling and maybe near extinction state. Over the past few years, art and culture enthusiasts have tried to attempt to revive this art back to life. Few women from the villages of Karnataka, India, were trained and set to work on and find markets to sell products based on Kasuti. The scenario is believed to look better now.

Traditional patterns involved motifs of animals like elephants,cows, parrots, bulls and peacocks. In fact, the elephant pattern is one of the most important ones of traditional Kasuti designs. Flower patterns were also used occasionally along with the animals and birds. Other most used and favourite traditional patterns were that of chariots, gopurams (indian ornamental tower before a temple), cradles, and tulasi plants (an aromatic herbal plant called Basil, used extensively in indian medicines, and worship).

Kasuti patterns are geometrical in concept and so, also replicate ‘rangoli’ designs. Rangoli is a popular form of floor art in india where finely ground white powder (and sometimes colorful) are used to represent designs. These designs follow a symetrical shape or form. So, to make it short, Kasuti is also used to make symetrical and geometrical shapes to fill or border the clothing

I have divided the Kasuti lessons into four parts. I would suggest you to follow the lessons in its given order to understand the embroidery completely. Lessons 2, 3, and 4 will follow in subsequent weeks. 🙂

Lesson 1 : The basics
Lesson 2 : Illustration on plain fabric
Lesson 3:  Illustration on even weave fabric
Lesson 4:  Illustration of all four stitches
Patterns 1: Kasuti patterns based on Gavanti and Muragi stitches
Patterns 2: Kasuti patterns based on Neygi and Menthi stitches

Reference : KASUTI skill training presentation by Avni Varia to Sampark.