Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, is famous for its ‘Chikankari’ all over the world. Chikankari is a traditional style of embroidery, which originated in the Mughal period. This special kind of embroidery which was invented in Lucknow, was introduced by Noor Jahan, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s wife.
This beautiful textile decoration style is hand embroidery done on various types of fabrics such as net, muslin, georgette, silk, chiffon, organza, crepe etc. The cloth has to be neither too thick, nor too hard, so that the needle is able to pierce into it easily for the embroidery. Previously, the embroidery was done with white thread only, that is to say that the white or colored clothes were embroidered with only white colored thread. But now to keep up with the modern fashion trends, the embroidery is done with colored and even with silk threads.
For the chikankari, blocks of various patterns are used to print beautiful designs on the cloth. Then on these designs, the specific embroidery is done. Often a combination of two or three types of embroidery is done. Additional beautification like Mukaish, mirror work, bead work, Kamdani or sequin etc is also often done to give it a party-wear or gaudy look. After the embroidery work is complete, the cloth is sent for washing so as to remove the printed pattern thoroughly. The cotton based clothes are starched and then they are ironed after giving them a final finish. Now they are ready to be sent for sale.
The Chikan work includes many types of stitches such as Tepchi, Back stitch, Shadow Work, Jali, Bakhiya, Zanjeera, Rahet, Phanda, Khatau, Banarsi, Murri, Ghaspatti, Makra, Kauri, Kangan, Dhanya Patti, Bulbul, Keel Kangan, Sidhaul, Chanapatti, Jora, Baalda and many more. Chikankari workis done to designgorgeous sarees, suits, stoles, tops, kurti, dupattas, shirts and kurta for men, designerlehngas, bedsheets and even embroidered sherwanis. These are available in beautiful colors and designs which make them all the more attractive.
The exquisite chikankari is done mostly by the poor women in and around Lucknow. Chikankari is often used as style staple by famous designers to create amazing modern and stylish draping. Intricate embroideries make for impressive occasion wear.
Lucknow has many outlets for chikan work. The cost is in accordance with the fabric used and the type of embroidery done on it. Now days, these can also be bought online. For the summer season,chikankari done on cotton fabric is the best option.