Kashida or kasuti is a kind of tradition of embroidery done by women in the Dharwar region of Karnataka. The technique of embroidery is laborious and requires understanding of geometrical patterns because the designs are not traced, but the embroidery is done by counting the threads of the material. A slight variation in the length of the stitch due to incorrect counting spoils the symmetry of the design. Such minute embroidery on the dark cotton background was very taxing to the eyesight of the karigar.
Basically, it is a running stitch in different ways– vertical, horizontal and diagonal in such a way that the design appears identical on both the sides. The designs are done in white, orange and other bright colours on contrasting dark shades of blue and black.
The repertoire of the karigar consists of motifs from mythological and architectural designs, flora and fauna, and scenes from day-to-day life. Each motif is given a specific name such as padma, gopura, tulasivrindavan and others. Kasuti work is done all along the border, the elaborate pallu, and the body of the sari. The motifs and butis in the body of the sari become smaller in size and the number gradually decreases towards the pleats of the sari.
It was customary for the bride to possess a black ‘Chandrakala’ sari with kasuti work on it. It is a common practice in Karnataka to give a newlywed girl a Kashida sari with khan for her blouse. It is considered an honour for the bride to get it from her in-laws and their relatives. Many women preserve it as a family heirloom and pass it on to the succeeding generations. It is also given as an auspicious gift to the expectant mothers.
This sari, in deep blue cotton, has a broad border in maroon with diamond patterns in silk thread. The pallu has just horizontal bands of grey and purple. Near the pallu, on the blue ground, there is an intricate embroidery depicting lotus, pair of peacocks, animals, human figures, flowering trees in white, orange, purple and green threads. Two bands of geometrical floral designs run parallel to the pallu. The body of the sari has designs known as roomali phul in white cotton thread. The embroidery is done in dosuti kasuti technique in which the length of the stitch is just two threads of the fabric.