Kasuti Embroidery is a traditional form of folk embroidery practised in the State of Karnataka, India. Kasuti work which is very intricate sometimes involves putting up to 5,000 stitches by hand and is traditionally made on dresswears like Ilkal Sarees, Ravike and Angi or Kurta.
The Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation (KHDC) holds a Geographical Indications (GI) protection for Kasuti embroidery which provides Intellectual Property rights on Kasuti to KHDC.
The history of Kasuti dates back to the Chalukya Period of Indian history. 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 women courtiers in the Mysore Kingdom in the 17th century were expected to be adept in 64 arts, with Kasuti being one of them.
The Kasuti Embroidery features folk designs influenced by Rangoli patterns of Karnataka, mirror work embroidery and gold & silver thread embroidery were mostly used for special occasions like weddings. In Karnataka, Sarees embroidered with Kasuti, were expected to be an important part of the bridal trousseau, of which one Saree made of black silk with Kasuti Embroidery called Chandrakali Saree was of premier importance.
Kasuti work involves embroidering very intricate patterns like Gopura, chariot, palanquin, lamps and conch shells. Locally available materials are used for Kasuti. The pattern to be embroidered is first marked with charcoal or pencil and then proper needles and thread are selected. The work is laborious and involves counting of each thread on the cloth. The patterns are stitched without using knots to ensure that both sides of the cloth look alike. Different varieties of stitches are employed to obtain the desired pattern.
Kasuti work has grown beyond its traditional boundaries to be used in other dress materials like the Mysore silk saree. A Kasuti centre was set up by the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Karnataka to encourage the Kasuti culture and also provide a single roof for the rural women to showcase their craft. However, Kasuti work is suffering from poor patronage, with not many people willing to take the craft seriously.
More information on Kasuti Hand-Embroidery Work of Karnataka will follow soon. Please stay tuned.