The Art of Chikankari

The Art of Chikankari

The art of stitching is an ethereal expression of beauty –emerging as a craftsman’s poem on fabric –having been in vogue for years. Delicate work, hours of labor and skills passed on generation to generation have adorned the present-day journey of stitching in India. Very few forms of embroidery embody this tasteful journey as well as chikankari, the staple and famous fabric-work originating from Lucknow.

Chikankari is an embroidery weaving done on muslin with stitches like backstitch, chain fasten, and hemstitch. The conspicuous element of this weaving is the stitches. The craftsman carefully deals with the sensitive lines manually, to give the piece of clothing a look of lavishness and flawlessness. With the developing interest in the workmanship area and hand-woven things, modernization has assumed a significant part in the retail area. Worldwide acknowledgment of the handloom items has prompted the offer of these Chikankari items to occur in the online market as well.


The antiquated history of this style is uncertain, however it is believed that in the eighteenth century it originated from the territory of Bengal (presently Bangladesh) into Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, which is still the focal point of its production in the twenty-first  century. Under the support of the nawabs of Oudh , chikan work accomplished an uncommon flawlessness. It depends on the impact on simplicity of design, the themes being restricted in number and the greatness of the work being decided by the minuteness and equality of the weaving. The quantity of stitches is likewise restricted. The workmanship was at risk of ceasing to exist, however a resuscitated interest in the second part of the twentieth century added to its reestablished imperativeness.


Mastering this form of embroidery takes years –precision to detail in forming every stitch requires a discipline and slight of hand that artisans have practiced for decades. With 32 main kinds of stitches–broadly classified as flat (such as keel kangan and bakhiya), raised/embossed (like chas patti and phanda) or open (like jaali and hool) –chikankari has its roots in the Mughal dynasty of Awadh, reportedly being introduced by Nur Jahan. Originally delicately embroidered on muslin with a white thread, imbibing motifs inspired by persian culture and other simple designs like flowers, chikankari soon evolved from white thread to other colors and from muslin to other fabrics. Chiffon, organza, cotton, rayon –fabrics from all over the country began to be needled with beautiful chikankari. However, as a regal form of embroidery, the evolution of chikankari onto silk remains the most zenith evolution of the handicraft.

A major staple of fabric diversification for this form of embroidery is that the fabric remains thin enough for the needle to puncture through. Chikan work has today been adapted and adjusted by added groupings like Badla, Kamdani, Mukaish, sequin, bead and mirror work, which gives it a more extravagant and more refined allure. This craftsmanship when performed on textures like silk, which is light, draws out the excellence of the weaving.

For instance, in terms of high-priced work, chikankari is now carried out on the silk form tussar –which is known for its versatility as a fabric and natural goldish hue. More affordable silks like mulberry and muga offer a more accessible use of the artisanal embroidery to the broader clientele. The silk chikan work sarees are the most besotted style amongst the multitude of chikankari sarees that are accessible in the market today. These sarees give the ladies an ideal desi look with its charming motifs, botanical prints, applique work and pastel tones. Meanwhile, the style has found longevity in the form of anarkalis, sarees and even desi-style westernized outfits like tops, gowns and dresses.

Chikankaari is one of those embroidery methods that are equally famous in both men and female fashion. Male kurtas, sherwanis, suits and smaller assortments like handkerchiefs are highly adorned with chikankari work. Chikankari is currently additionally used to brighten table material, pillow cover, cushion covers, bed cloth and a great deal of different items. In Chikankari, the most well-known theme utilized is creepers. Botanical themes like rose, lotus, jasmine, and blossoming stems are likewise made on textures. The impacts and examples that are made rely upon the kind of stitches like hemstitch, backstitch, or chain line and the thickness of the string that is utilized. More often than not, the individual doing the weaving makes mesh-like segments, utilizing a needle to help separate the string in ground fabric and afterward works around the spaces.

The nitty gritty process of chikankari starts with a pattern block (more if necessary) that is used to block-print a design on the fundamental texture. The embroiderer stitches the pattern on it and the completed piece is altogether washed to eliminate any hints of the printed piece of block example. The process of chikankaari hence includes fundamental steps like planning, etching, block printing, sewing, weaving and lastly washing for final details. In the course of recent years, the Central and State Government and associations like the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have put forth attempts to resuscitate the chikankari industry, create business, guarantee great wages, empower promotion channels and eventually produce great quality chikan.

Designers like Sabyasachi Mukherji and Manish Malhotra have over the years released high-end fashion collections centered on chikankari, furthering its global recognition. Hence, as evidenced by its surviving the perils of commercialization of small businesses and handicrafts, chikankari is here to stay. Diversification of chikankari has allowed it to stay in tune with latest fashion trends; it remains one of the most trusted and famous forms of embroidery, perfect for wear for both men and women as part of sarees, kurtas or even modern desi-but-global dresses.

At the point when the summer Sun grins unequivocally, you realize it is an ideal opportunity to praise cool muslins and delicate reflections. Conventional yet molded in a fashionable contemporary wind, the imperishable chikankari comes to your cool salvation. Chikan work with its gossamer quality has become one of India’s most sizzling fares and is a declaration of high fashion finding its roots in traditions of handloom passed generation to generation.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.