Chikankari embroidery is a standout craft amongst the various traditional embroideries of Lucknow. It is believed to be introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir’s wife in India.
The word “Chikan” derives its meaning from the Persian word “Chakin” and means embroidery which is delicate and shadow work type of embroidery. Chikankari is the embroidery work done with the white cotton thread on a fine white cotton material.
Origin & History
The art of Chikankari can be traced back to as early as the 3rd Century AD during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, but the exact origin of this technique remains a mystery to date. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s associate, Noor Jahan, was a known gifted embroiderer with a special affection for Chikankari work.
Notwithstanding, there are different histories regarding how the beautiful art of Chikankari came to Lucknow. A few history specialists indicate that an explorer when going through the town of Lucknow was treated with friendliness. Having nothing to offer back to the workers of Lucknow, the voyager showed them the craft of Chikankari. Others articulate that Chikan can be gone back to the rule of King Harsha. There are still other people who accentuate that the utilization of ‘flowered muslin’ dated back to the rule of Chandragupta Maurya.
The birthplace of Chikankari, in this manner, is covered in the ravages of time. However, it can be expressed with many purviews that Chikankari had a significant presence amid the eighteenth and nineteenth century when conveyed to the Lakhnawi court of Nawabs.
Previously, the Chikankari weaving was generally done on mulmul-fine muslin cotton. Due to non-accessibility of mulmul, nowadays this embroidery is done on cotton, fleece, chiffon, crepe, organdie chiffon and silk fabrics using colorful threads.
The making of Lucknow chikankari can be separated into two sections – the pre-and the post-preparation stages.
The pre-work includes deciding on the outline and etching the same onto wooden square stamps. These stamps are then used for block printing the design onto the cloth with the assistance of neel and safeda dyes. The fabric is then cut according to the shape that the article of clothing should take.
At that point comes the weaving procedure, where the fabric is set in a little casing, part by part, and embroidery starts to follow the ink designs. The kind of sewing utilized relies on the area and the sort and size of the patterns. The most prevalent types of stitches in Lucknow chikankari incorporate the backstitch, chain fasten and hemstitch. The outcome is an openwork design, a jaal (lace) or shadow work.
Image Source: Craftsvilla
The stitches utilized as a part of Chikan Kari work of Lucknow are essential of three classifications, to be specific
-Flat Stitches (Subtle stitches that remain close to the fabric)
-Embossed Stitches (they give a grainy appearance)
-Jali Work (Created by thread tension, it gives a delicate net effect)
Dry cleaning is recommended to maintain the life of this embroidery. However, this also depends on the fabric used. A few fabrics, for example, silk, should be laundered however others, similar to cotton, can be hand washed.
Our Contemporary Take
Sarees & Dupattas
With the aim to recreate ancient glory, we have used georgette and the ancient art of Chikankari to create a perfect festive wardrobe. This collection of ethnic sarees and dupattas showcases timeless grace and elegance.
Kurtas, Palazzos & Dresses
With the perfect blend of this age-old craft, we have crafted contemporary kurtas, palazzos, and dresses. This collection is perfect for the spring and summer.