Kasuti (Kannada: ಕಸೂತಿ) is a traditional form of embroidery practiced 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 dresswear like Ilkal and Kanchivaram sarees. 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. 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. 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. Sarees embroidered with Kasuti were expected to be a 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. Some of the stitches employed are Ganti, Murgi, Neyge and Menthe. Ganti is a double running stitch used for marking vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, Murgi is a zig-zag stitch, Neyge is a running stitch and Menthe is a cross stitch resembling fenugreek seeds.
Kasuti work has grown beyond its traditional boundaries to be used in other dress materials like the Mysore silk saree. A Lambani Kasuti centre was set up in Hubli by the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Karnataka to encourage the Kasuti culture and also provide a single roof for the Lambani women to showcase their craft. However Kasuti work is suffering from poor patronage with not many people willing to take the craft seriously; an indication of which is the closure of the Karnataka Kasuti classes by the JSS college in Dharwad.
- An exhibition of Kasuti work is reported by "Exhibition of Kasuti work". Online Edition of The Hindu, dated 2007-03-15 (Chennai, India: 2007, The Hindu). 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- History of Kasuti is mentioned by Govind D. Belgaumkar and Anil Kumar Sastry (2006-10-27). "Unique symbols of Karnataka". Online Edition of The Hindu, dated 2006-10-27 (Chennai, India: 2006, The Hindu). Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- The origin of Kasuti is discussed by Shyam Subbalakshmi B M. "Between the folds". Online Edition of The Deccan Herald, dated 2003-11-23. 2003 The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd. Archived from the original on 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- A detailed description of Kasuti work is provided by K. L. Kamat. "Kasooti – Traditional Embroidery". Online Webpage of Kamat's Potpourri. © 1996-2007 Kamat's Potpourri. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- A brief description of Kasuti is provided by "Indian crafts" (PDF). Online webpage of cimindia.net. 2004, Conferences & Incentive Management (I) Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
- Mysore silk sarees using Kasuti work is mentioned by Aruna Chandaraju. "Modern MYSURU". Online Webpage of The Hindu, dated 2005-03-05. 2005, The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-04-22.