Saree Embroidery - 10 - Kasuti/Dharwad stitch

The "Kasuti" style of embroidery originated around the 7th century and is practised mainly in Uttara Kanara district of Karnataka in India, especially in Dharwad and Bijapur.   Therefore, this style is sometimes called the "Dharwad" stitch.  This embroidery is done mainly on the popular Indian handloom sarees called the "Ilkal/Irkal" sarees.

The geometric designs of Kasuti are taken from the temple sculptures. The motifs here range from architectural designs to a cradle and from an elephant to a squirrel. The main motifs are religious and are found to be larger near the pallu,like the elephant with howdah, the temple, the basil (Tulsi) plant platform, Nandi the sacred bull, gopuram, chariot palanquin, lamps and conch shells, etc.  As they move downwards in a sari they get smaller and smaller, like flowers, birds, animals and a large variety of geometrical designs.  The motifs have to be completed as the stitching line comes back to fill in the blank spaces.

Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal stitches are used. The stitches commonly used are the negi, the gavanti, the menthi and the murgi.
  • Gavanti is the most commonly used double running stitch and is worked in horizontal and vertical directions. 
  • Murgi is the zigzag done within the mending stitch, similar to gavanti. 
  • Negi is the ordinary running stitch. It is used for large designs and the overall effect is of a woven design by extra weft threads. In fact negi is an off-shoot of the word `ney` which in Karnataka means weaving. 
  • Menthu is a cross-stitch which is closely done by counting of the warp and two weft threads, mainly used in architectural patterns. 

Here are two of my sarees with Kasuti embroidery.  I have used only two types of stitches here, the Gavanti and the Murgi.

The first one is a synthetic silk saree with yellow to red shade.

And the pattern for the embroidery is a random stylized motif.

The motifs run all along the lower border of the saree.

Only one thread color was used i.e. White.


Here is a closeup of the motif..

















The second one is a plain jet-black colored georgette saree.

The pattern chosen here is of a medicine capsule.

The Anchor embroidery thread colors used here were White and Orange.

The same pattern has been used throughout the lower border of the saree, as well as in the pallu by forming a pyramidal shape.

The thread colors were used alternately to give a contrasting effect.

Here are pictures of the saree pallu, the border, and closeups of the motifs.. 


Here is more info and pictures about the Kasuti embroidery style:

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