Traditionally, a dupatta used to be paired with a kurta, salwar kameez or ghagra choli and was worn as a symbol of modestly. It was usually simple in design and was only an accessory to the main garment it was paired with. Over time, the dupatta has evolved to be more elaborately designed and can even take up the central role in an ensemble. In fact, it is not uncommon today to see young women draping attractive dupattas over shirts or t-shirts for an Indo-western look, and to jazz up their formal or semi-formal outfits. A stole is a smaller dupatta that can also be used as a scarf around the neck.
Just as with sarees, most centers of handloom weaving in India also produce dupattas and stoles, reflecting their traditional weaving patterns and motifs. Silk and cotton dupattas in a variety of colours and textures, with woven, painted, printed or embroidered patterns form a delightful addition to a woman’s wardrobe.
Kantha embroidery is done by hand, by rural craftswomen in the Bolpur region of West Bengal. These women usually don't have much formal training, learn the art at home and pass it down through the generations. Along with sarees, they also embroider kurtas, dupattas, stoles, dress material and home furnishings. As with sarees, dupattas with kantha embroidery are usually made of pure silk, tussar silk or cotton.
Tussar silk dupattas & stoles with Kantha embroidery: Tussar silk dupattas come in natural shades such as beige, cream, honey and tawny. They are embroidered with colourful threads with patterns ranging from simple and elegant, to gorgeous and ornate. Floral motifs in rich, vibrant colours form a lovely contrast against the natural, beige tussar fabric, and highlight the intricacies in the embroidered work. Sometimes, the fabric is dyed to take up brighter colours. A combination of kantha work with tie and dye patterns can also be found on these dupattas.
Pure silk dupattas & stoles with Kantha embroidery: Soft, pure silk fabric in a variety of colours are used to make these dupattas. Bangalore silk, which is light-weight, yet strong, is often used. Floral and leaf motifs and other patterns inspired from nature form the themes of these kantha designs.