Lucknow- the city of Nawabs and kababs with its sprawling gardens, polite mannerisms, fine cuisine and poetry boasts an invaluable gem in the form of delicately embroidered Chikankari work.
Chikankari is the embroidery work done with the white cotton thread on fine white cotton material. The word ‘Chikan’ is basically derived from Persian word ‘Chikeen’. In earlier days, the Chikankari embroidery was traditionally done on fine muslin cotton. Nowadays this work is done on cotton, chiffon, crepe,georgette and silk clothes using contrast color threads.
The origin of Chikankari is initiated by the influence of intricate carving patterns of Mughal architecture during their period. The Chikan work in Lucknow is older than 200 years and later it was patronized by Nawabs. There are 5000 families involved in Chikankari embroidery in and around villages of Lucknow.
Did you know that a chikankar trains for about 10 years to learn the intricate art and after training takes about 15 days to finish his work on a lucknowi kurta!
Chikankari embroidery consists of 40 different types of stiches
Tepchi:This is one of the simplest form of designing a Chikankari dress. It’s a linear, long running or darning stitch on a fabric. Six strands on the right side of the ground fabric taken over four threads and one of them is picked up. This particular style is mostly chosen to outline the design motif.
Bakhiya:This type of stitch is known for its double back and shadow work. It’s mostly done from the wrong side of the fabric and the actual design on the front end is rendered in herringbone style. The shadow of the thread is seen on the cloth from the right side. In industry, it is also known as “Ulti” and “Seedhi” Bakhiya..
Hool:This one is a fine detached eyelet stitch. It is made with the help of six threads and forms the heart of the flower. A hole is very delicately punched into the fabric and the threads are then separated from each other. It is then held by miniscule stitches all around with a single thread on the right side of the fabric.
Zanzeera: This is a very small delicately handcrafted chain stitch worked with one thread being on the right side of the fabric. It’s is mostly used for enhancing the outline of a shape like flower or a petal once basic outlines have already been made.
Rahet: An offshoot of the Bakhiya stitch, it is rarely used in its simplest form. Popularly known as “Dohra Bakhiya”, it forms a solid line of back stitch on the right side of the fabric. Mostly used to create outline stitches.
Banarsi: A form of twisted stitch which is done with six threads on the right side of the fabric. Working on the right side and at an interval of 5 threads, a small stitch is taken over about two threads vertically. The needle is again reinserted at the half way mark just below the horizontal stitch and is taken out about two threads vertically on the right hand side just above the preceding stitch.
Khatau:Just like Rahet, Khatau is also an offshoot of Bakhiya. The most noticeable difference is that it is finer and is a form of appliqué. The design is mostly prepared on a calico which is a plain woven unbleached textile and often not fully processes cotton.
Phanda:This is one of the most commonly used and amongst the well known stitches along with Murri. It’s mostly used in making the center of the flowers in simple Chikankari design motifs. The basic difference between a Phandaand Murri is that Murri is a rice shaped design while a Phanda is millet shaped.
Jali:These stitches require great level of meticulous expertise. The beauty of this design is that the threads are never drawn through the fabric making the back of the fabric as impeccable as the front. The threads are very carefully drawn apart and very small buttonhole stitches are inserted into the cloth.
Turpai and Darzdari: These two types of stitches are integral part of Chikankari. Turpai is recognised by think thread design while Darzdari comes in various forms like “Singbhada Darz”, “kohidarz”, Kamal darz”, “Shankarpara Darz” etc.
Ghas patti : During the Nawabi rule of Lucknow, the highfalutin ladies of that era employed chikankari workers for their personal attendance and adorned themselves in the best attires hand crafted by the nimble fingers of these artisans. To create newer designs different stitches were to be used. One such stitch was introduced as Ghas patti, which is in the form of grass blades stacked in a row.
There are many other types of Chikankari stitches which are: Banjkali, Makra, Kauri, Sazi, Karan, Kapkapi, Madrazi, Bulbul-Chasm, Taj Mahal, Chanapatti, Keel Kangan, Sidhaul etc.
Ethnava brings you this timeless art of Chikankari directly from the lanes of Old Lucknow. Fusing this ageless art with works like Mukaish, Gotta Patti and ari-zardozi gives it a modern look. We make chikankari outfits like lucknowi kurta, chikan suit, chikankari sarees, dupattas and palazzos that are hand embroidered by the very best of our craftsmen. We also bring to you an exclusive range of lucknowi kurta for men!
So spruce up your wardrobe with the authentic chikankari collection from us!
What makes us different?
Traditional Designs with a Modern Twist
Bringing everyday ethnic fashion at your doorstep
Imagined in India, Made in India