The Craft

CHIKANKARI:

  • The craft of chikankari is a very delicate form of needle work done in Lucknow.
  • There are several interesting stories related to the origin of this embroidery as no exact documentation for its origination is available. Some relate it to the introduction by Persians during the Mughal era in India.
  • Simple and precise, yet intricate hand stitches used gives an elegant and classy feel to the fabric. Hence, it is often referred to as the Luxury Craft of India.
  • The chikankari embroidery features 32 stitches which can broadly be classified into – raised stitch, embossed stitch and flat stitch.
  • Some of the stitches used nowadays are murree, phanda, keel, kangan, bakhiya, chanapatti, tepchi, jaali.
  • Chikankari is a unique way of designing fabric. It’s an arduous process that is a compilation of designing, engraving, block printing, embroidery, washing and finishing.
  • First, the fabric is cut according to requirement or stitched in case of garments. Then it is block printed with design motifs on which the embroidery is done. The cloth is then washed several times after which it is finally inspected and ready to be used.
  • Traditionally, the handicraft was done on white muslin cloth using white thread. Now the embroidery is done on pastel shades of muslin and cotton. It is also embellished and adorned with sequins, beads and mirror work to enrich its appearance.
  • Each product made using the chikankari technique is unique which is a natural outcome of the extensive human involvement in each process.
  • Almost all of the artisans involved in chikankari are women from the rural areas around Lucknow.
  • Lucknow was awarded the Geographical Index Certification for chikankari in December, 2008.