Today, we’ll be talking about the famous Chikan embroidery style from Lucknow. This art took shape when India was under the rule of Mughals during which this exquisite style proliferated. As history says, Nur Jahan, wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir is said to have introduced this art. It flourished in Mughal Courts during the 16th and 17th century. Often treated as a royal design, this karigari is now available in the Chowk which is the local market of Lucknow. Over the period, it has gone a long way from being a traditional summer wear to a classy winter couture.

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The Mechanics behind Chikankari

Chikankari has innumerable patterns and designs depending on the types of stitches and thread thickness. This embroidery process can be divided into three steps, first of which is the selection of design. Block printing is performed by using wooden blocks dipped in dye. Now the cloth is etched with Chikan designs and finishing takes place by bleaching and ironing it to result in a delightful ethnic wear.

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Image source: utsavpedia.com

The Designs and Stitches

The stitches used in Chikankari are classified in three broad categories i.e. Flat Stitches, Embossed stitches and Jali work. Flat stitches remain close to the fabric. Embossed stitches are shiny in appearance and Jali work, also known as Net-work, has a net like form. Nowadays, sequins, beads and mirror work are also used in this process to give an enhanced appearance.

From then to now!

In the past, embroidery was mostly done on muslin and cotton fabrics but in accordance with the latest trends, it is now also done on Silk, Georgette and Chiffon. However, Chikankari is only practised on fine fabrics so that the piercing by needles can be smoothly done.

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In 1986, the issues faced by the Chikan workers of Lucknow were beautifully presented in the super hit movie, Anjuman. Modern times have given this artistic approach a whole new dimension by various designers. From color selections to the use of fabric, the experimentations also includes detailing like zardozi and crystals. Many celebrities have been known to flaunt this piece of art in movies and live appearances.

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Chikankari is often defined as a timeless and classic technique but innovations have carved out a tremendous enhancement in this hand-crafted design. The global fashion industry has warmly welcomed this design which were earlier restricted to kurtas but now even modern wears such as skirts and tops have implemented it.

Image source: fabindia.com

Image source: fabindia.com

The beauty of Chikankari has found a way in our home décor and accessories like table cloths, napkins, bed linens and curtains. The embroidery on these articles of daily use gives them unusual and fabulous look.

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Image source: jaypore.com

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Image source: lucknowichikan.in

The heritage Chikan work is a renowned piece of needle crafting which is practised by the skilled artisans of Lucknow and has been a successful trade in the fashion market. The quality of embroidery has been often defined as stunning and overwhelming. A visit to the city of Nawabs must definitely include a visit to the famous Chikankari shops. Apart from the Chowk, you can explore the marketplaces of Hazratganj, Aminabad and Alambagh to add something new to your wardrobe. Happy shopping, ladies! 🙂

Happy shopping, ladies! 🙂

Dibas Kar

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