Beyond the Fabric: The Artistry of Kasuti Embroidery in Karnataka

Kasuti Embroidery From Karnataka

Kasuti Embroidery: The Exquisite Art of Karnataka

Kasuti embroidery is a world-famous art form of Karnataka, previously known as Mysore state. This art form is a part of the world of women, reflecting the traditions, customs, and professions of the people of Karnataka. The word Kasuti means “hand” or “Kai” and “cotton thread” or “Suti” in the Kannada language, indicating that the embroidery is handcrafted with cotton thread. Kasuti embroidery is famous in many places, especially in Bijapur, Dharwar, Belgaum, Miraj, Sangli, and Jamkhandi districts. This article explores the history, motifs, and techniques used in this intricate art form.

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History of Kasuti Embroidery

The art of Kasuti embroidery can be traced back to the ancient times of the Chalukya era and the rule of the Mysore dynasty. It originated from the discarded threads of silk weaving and has evolved into an exquisite art form. It is a part of the bridal trousseau, and it was a custom that a bride had to possess a black silk sari with Kasuti work done on it. The embroidery designs created by women depict flowers, birds, animals, architecture, and rangoli patterns typical to Karnataka.

Motifs Used in Kasuti Embroidery

The motifs used in Kasuti embroidery are inspired by temple architecture, the gopurams of South India, and nature. The lotus flower, birds such as the parrot, peacock, and swan, and animals such as the sacred bull, elephant, and deer are common motifs. Additional motifs comprise of domestic animals such as cattle, everyday objects like cradles and flower pots, and Tulsi katte, an enclosed space intended for the veneration of the holy Tulsi plant. One can rarely see horses, lions, or tigers, but cats and dogs are never seen. Among the floral motifs, the lotus is mostly used.

Techniques Used in Kasuti Embroidery

Kasuti embroidery is a time-consuming art form that requires skill and patience. It involves more than 5,000 stitches that are used to create a pattern using a needle, threads, and a variety of materials such as cotton, silk, etc. The embroidery manifests identically on either side of the fabric, devoid of any visible knots.. The cloth is fixed onto a frame or an embroidery hoop, and atop the cloth is fixed a cotton mosquito net for uniformity of design. The designs are not traced onto the cloth but are created by the craftswomen as they embroider or are made from memory. The four stitches used in Kasuti are gavanti, murgi, negi, and menthi. The Gavanti stitch is widely used and recognized as a double-running stitch that can craft lines in various directions, including diagonal, horizontal, and vertical. The murgi is a zigzag stitch, and the negi is an ordinary running stitch, going right to left. The menthi stitch is like the cross-stitch and is used for filling in the motif.

Contemporary Form of Kasuti Embroidery

Kasuti embroidery has not developed into a cottage industry but is only a handicraft and pastime for women. However, the contemporary form of Kasuti has helped keep the craft and, thereby, the crafts-person with the times and created some sort of economic viability. Apart from clothing and home décor, Kasuti embroidery can be seen on bags and purses, tee-shirts, caps, etc.


Kasuti embroidery is an ancient art form that originated in Karnataka, India. It speaks volumes about the culture and traditions of the people, especially women, of the state. Kasuti embroidery is a storehouse of intricate and beautiful designs that are created by women as they see the world around them. It is a testament to the creativity and skill of the craftswomen who create these beautiful pieces of art. The craft has been passed down through generations of women and continues to be an important part of their lives. Although it is primarily a pastime and handicraft for women, the contemporary form of Kasuti has helped create economic viability for the craft and the crafts-person. With its unique zero-knots technique and intricate designs, Kasuti embroidery deserves its place in the limelight and recognition as a valuable contribution to the world of art and handicrafts.


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