Chikankari – Preserving the Traditional Art

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Long Journey of Old Craft

The genuine delicate embroidery work on your apparel, which can make anybody envious of you, turning you more ethnic and Indian, giving you unrivalled traditional look, showing the hallmark of the darling art of Lucknow – best describes the intricate Chikankari work. The subtle and excellent embroidery work of Chikankari, which is hundreds of years old, is still thriving in the city. This old traditional art, flourishing solely in Lucknow city produces the supreme and unsurpassed Chikan work in India.

Starting point of the rare art

Cloaked with a mist of mystery, the origin of this excellent species of embroidery goes back to Persia. This is inferred from the info that the word Chikan is a derivative of the Persian word ‘Chikaan’ or ‘Chikin’ meaning drapery. Some research on the other hand tells a different story, that the craft drifted from Bengal. The Chikankari moved to Lucknow when Mughal power weakened in Bengal and the craftsmen migrated to Oudh durbars under the patronage of Nawabs. Whatever be the tales behind the origin of this embroidery work, it is a fact that this craft bloomed and developed under the benevolence of Nawabs.

Arduous procedure of the delicate art

The Chikan embroidery work requires considerable amount of hardship and craftsmanship to produce authentic pieces of art. This fine needle work is crafted on a variety of fabrics like muslin, chiffon, cotton and silk. White thread is embroidered on the refined designs on the sheer fabrics. At first the design patterns are engraved on the wooden blocks and then it is followed by printing these designs on the fabric. The printed fabric is then conveyed to the artisan who will do the fined stitching with the needle by keeping the piece stretched with a wooden frame. The stitching work has a huge variety and style. Taipchi, Pechni, Pashni, Khatao, Murri, Jangira, Gitti, Phanda and Jali, the traditional name of some style of stitching reciprocated the antiquity of its existence. Some get lost under the layer of time, some are still surviving. The meticulous process is then give finishing touches with washing, stiffening and ironing. Meeting to the present demand and fashion the Chikan work is not only done with colourful threads but also all kinds of trendy fabrics like silk, crepe, Tassar.

This art took various changes in its journey from tradition to commercialisation facing the challenges of following the contemporary fashion and trends.

A single ethnic piece of this craft is an embellishment to your wardrobe. It is the most picked souvenir of Lucknow. Surpassing the challenges from Mughal period, the needle craft of Chikan is disseminating the conserved culture and tradition of India all over the world.